Stonehenge, London, and More

The meetings mentioned in the previous post were the final social work-related visits to the program, leaving three days to explore England.  We packed up and left our temporary home in Canterbury very early on Thursday morning.  Our day tour was led by Tony, a very friendly and garrulous driver, who had lots of stories about every place we visited (although I am not sure that all of the stories would stand up to thorough fact-checking).  Our first stop was Stonehenge, an ancient stone circle surrounded by sheep pastures.  We probably took hundreds of pictures during this stop, some of Stonehenge and some of the sheep.  Although Stonehenge is strictly fenced off and tourists are not allowed to approach it, we were able to see and touch stones in an even larger, but less famous, stone formation in nearby Avebury.  We next saw Salisbury cathedral, a beautiful medieval cathedral which has the highest spire in all of England and houses an original copy of the Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215.  After a long day touring, our bus dropped us off in London at our hotel in Russell Square.  A few hardy souls not completely exhausted by the long day walked to nearby Kings Cross railway station, home of “Platform 9 ¾” from the Harry Potter series.

Our first full day in London began with a trip on the “Underground”, London’s extensive subway system.  Although many of the students had never been on a subway before, by the end of our stay, they were proficient enough to navigate it on their own.  We began with a visit to the Tower of London.  The Tower had historically been used as a prison for nobility, including one of Henry VIII’s wives, but is now home to the British Crown Jewels and a museum, where we learned a lot about warfare in medieval times.  After escaping the Tower, we stopped next at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where several hardy and fit members of the group climbed several hundred stairs to see some amazing views of London.  Some students still had energy left after this to visit the British Museum and Museum of London, while others tried shopping at Covent Garden.

Sunday morning was devoted to a walk down White Hall, photographing the famous and historic sites that are all located in walking distance:  Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, the Queen’s Cavalry Parade Grounds, the Prime Minister’s residence, the Churchill War Rooms, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and ending at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards.   In the afternoon, we split up to discover more of London, from Harrods Department store to the Imperial War Museum.

I have been very impressed with all of the Mount Mercy students on this program.  They have been a great group:  insightful, hard-working, and willing to explore a new country and learn about a new culture.  Even when they faced inclement weather, inconveniences, or illness, they all maintained flexibility and a positive attitude.




Leave a comment

Filed under Professor's Perspective

Through sickness and in health!


Cheers! My name is Kayla, and I am a third year student at Mount Mercy Uni. I wanted to go on this trip to experience another culture’s perspective on social work, and just in general how they live. We have definitely been doing a lot of that around here and have been enjoying our time. There is always something new to learn and I can’t wait to see what we will find in London!

Hello!! my name is Angel and I am a third year social work student at Mount Mercy University.  I wanted to go on this trip across the pond to learn about England’s social work programs and policies.  I also wanted to make this trip because I have never been out of the USA and wanted to experience a new country and culture.  Things have been fun and interesting here in jolly ole England.

Good day mate, This is Keely and I am a third year social work major at MMU. I became interested on the trip to England when I started working with diverse populations. This had opened my perspective into a whole new world. Even better, I thought, why not a whole new country? I enjoy seeing different cultures and meeting new people, but even learning about their policies and how they incorporate their social work system into their every day life compared to us.

As our journey has continued throughout Kent, we have visited the two agencies of Homestart and Riverside Children’s Centre. The first agency was Homestart where we were able to learn about the large organization that provides support and resources for children and their families. The coordinator of Homestart was competent in explaining the program and appeared to be enthusiastic about it. The program is a group of 16  trained workers and over a 100 volunteers. They provide outreach in the homes and help the families with daily tasks such as budgeting, parenting skills, healthy eating and sanitation of the home, etc. The next agency that we visited today was Riverside Children’s Centre. This is an organization that plays a role in improving outcomes for all young children; hence, it is a “universal” programme. There are about 400 children in use of the service and the organization works hard to reach every child in the Kent County. The multi disciplinary teams are available for parents and children to use and help mothers before, during and after pregnancy to keep their children safe and healthy. They work hard to educate the children. One of the many services utilized is peer to peer support, such as breastfeeding and post natal depression.

Not only are we able to learn about the agencies but we have been able to visit the town of Rochester. This was a smaller, cute town with many shops, ruins of the castle and a beautiful cathedral. The castle overlooked a river and a cathedral in sites distance. We indulged in the diners and tea rooms with some shopping as well. For Kayla and Keely, this was their first day out, being ill. They were able to get fresh air and see a beautiful sight. Thankfully, they have progressively gotten well.

Today is our last day in Canterbury and we are off to London tomorrow. We will have the chance to visit Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury on our drive. Then we will have two enjoyable days in London where we have a few activities. We can see the guards and Big Ben. Sunday, we will return to the states mate. xx

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Voices

The wheels on the double decker bus go round and round….

Greetings, Cody here speaking to you all the way from England; but, I’m only a hop skip and jump away from home where I am a Junior studying Social Work!  I’m overly excited to be on this journey, and it’s also very much so an experience of a lifetime! I decided to take this journey to England because I wanted to learn more about England’s social services and how their systems are run. Also, of course, I wanted to get a feel of how England’s life is and what type of shopping centers they have! 🙂

Ello there!  My name is Whitney and I am a junior social work student.  I decided to take this class and come across the pond to expand my horizons.  I thought that it would be interesting to learn about another country’s social services, and how things are run over here.  So far, it has been a great experience and really opened my eyes up to another part of the world’s way of life!

Hello mate! My name is Ashley and I am currently a junior social work major. I wanted to come to England because I am very interested in international social work as a career.  I wanted to learn about the policies and the way services are provided in another country. I also wanted to study abroad, because I love to travel and learn about different cultures.

We continue our journey in Kent County by visiting two additional agencies: Kent County Council, Safeguarding Adults; and Department of Opportunity Services. Kent County Council, Safeguarding Adults is an agency in Whitstable that focuses on adult protective services and homebased long-term care. One thing that we found interesting was that service users have the option of choosing the services that they like. Instead of the government paying for the services and choosing what services people have to use, here, service users are given the money in direct payments to choose their own services. One form of a direct payment that they are given is a “Kent Card,” which is a card that a set amount of money is loaded into so that they use for a wide range of services, from medicine to social activities. One thing we noticed about this approach is that they are more empowered as a human being because they are trusted to make their own decisions and use their card how they want. Department of Opportunity Services is the other agency that we visited which is an adult learning center for people with disabilities. We also saw the empowerment theme in this agency with the products that were made to sell by the individuals such as furniture, corner cabinets, jams, and clay pottery.  This is an opportunity for them to be hands on and see something made from start to finish. They are also encouraged to give 100% effort and use creativity. They are finishing “hubs” which will integrate them into the city and encourage social interactions with other residents of the city. In regard to the US and how it compares, they also try to get the service users out into the community.

Along with the agencies, we have done some traveling around Kent County. On Saturday, we traveled to Dover to see the castle. After being there about an hour, we were met with hurricane force winds and were forced to evacuate. While we were there though, we learned about the hundreds of years of history. We also were able to take a tour of the war-time tunnels where they had a hospital. Along with the tunnels, the whole castle is said to be haunted! Spooky! They do ghost tours, but due to the evacuation of the castle we were unable to attend. Despite the winds, we three went back Sunday afternoon to see what we were unable to the previous day. Once we arrived the winds had died down so we were able to tour the inside of the castle, climb to the very top of the castle and in the distance we could see France! We made sure to catch a cab so we would have plenty of time to make it to the bus stop to catch our bus home…but that didn’t work out as we planned. We read the schedule wrong. After looking around confused for a few minutes, a nice girl asked us where we needed to go. She told us that we needed to ride the bus for two hours unless we wanted to wait at the bus stop a long time, so we rode it. On our exciting two-hour bus ride, we got to see Deal’s pier twice and Dover once again on our way back to Canterbury. Despite our mishaps, along this journey we have learned that the people are friendly and helpful and that definitely the motto of this trip is to be flexible!

Good day M8! xxx

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Voices

Weekend Update

Catharine here with a brief update on some of our activities.  Today (Sunday) has dawned bright and sunny, and the students who were sick earlier in the week are feeling better today.

After an intensive week of lectures and meetings with agencies, Saturday was eagerly anticipated as our first full-day field trip.  We had booked a visit to Dover Castle, an enormous castle built on the famous White Cliffs of Dover, overlooking the English Channel.  The oldest building in the complex is a Roman lighthouse built around 50 AD, and the castle has been used for defense from Roman times until as late as WWII.  It had been rainy for much of the week, but the weather cleared up somewhat on Saturday, making it a great day for the castle, or so we thought… Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found that the medieval sections of the castle were closed due to winds of up to 50-60 mph gusting along the tops of the cliffs.  We were able to tour a recreated WWII hospital located deep in tunnels in the cliffs and see a WWII Fire Command Post with sweeping views of Dover and the English Channels.  Some of the group also heard some spooky ghost stories from a helpful staffer at the castle.   After a chilly, blustery morning on top of the cliffs, we had lunch in a local diner, with most of us indulging in the artery-clogging but delicious traditional English breakfast (sausage, bacon, egg, toast, and baked beans).

Attached in the gallery are a few photos from last week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Professor's Perspective

Of lice and fleas

It will be a relief to all of our loyal readers to know that, unlike the original Canterbury Tales’ pilgrims, none of the Mount Mercy travellers have lice or fleas. Nonetheless, we do have a few students who have picked up the local virus and feel under the weather today.

We spent time in Whitstable this morning and afternoon, prior to and following our social care agency meeting. Although it was a rainy day, the double decker bus ride to Whitstable proved fun enough to warrant several pictures throughout the 30 minute trip. 

I’ll let the student bloggers fill you in on our agency visit with Kent Social Services, including their impressions; but, as an instructor, I want to comment on the professional manner in which Mount Mercy’s social work group continues to present itself.  It’s really been a pleasure travelling with this group.

Now, it’s on to checking emails, dinner, laundry and bed. Tomorrow we journey to the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle.

Cheers, Joni

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Voices

Once Upon a Time…

Greetings from England!!

My name is Ashley and I am a senior Social Work student , gearing up for graduation this Spring.  The reason why I wanted to take part in this course is that I wanted to compare the United States’ Social Welfare to the United Kingdom’s Social Welfare to gain a better understanding of how other countries operate compared to the United States. 

My name is Kyann and I am a sophomore Social Work Student. I was really excited for the opportunity to travel to England for this course.  I think that it has been a great opportunity to do something  out of my normal element.   I really was  interested in getting to visit social agencies to get a better understanding of how we differ in the social services that our country provides.

Hi! My name is Kristin, and I am a senior social work student.  I am very ready to graduate in the spring and begin working, and I feel so lucky to be here in England further developing my concept of social work on a global level.

So far, our time in England has been fantastic, and flexibility has become our theme!  Christ Church University (CCU)  has gone above and beyond in providing us accommodations – we are all fully registered students, albeit only for two weeks, and have full access to their entire facilities.  Our housing has been an adventure; our rooms are spacious and we all have our own.  Electricity works in about half of our rooms, as do computers, and we have learned that power adapters do not always adapt.  The building is old and picturesque and is centrally located in the heart of Canterbury. 

We have visited three local agencies thus far: Horizons (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center), Age Concern (an adult day center), and the Porchlight Project (a hostel for homeless individuals seeking to engage in rehabilitation for a myriad of issues).  Horizons welcomed us with a homemade lunch prepared with ingredients grown by their service users! In England, a service user is what we would call a client or consumer.  All of the agencies have been very receptive to our visits, and have flooded us with information about the unique services they provide.  They also seem extremely interested in our opinions on how their services compare with our own.  We have found that basic philosophies seem to differ; there is an emphasis on compassion, empowerment, and the state’s duty to care for its citizens that seems to be lacking in the U.S.  Service delivery is also held to an incredibly high standard.  State, local, and private agencies, as well as social work education, are all very formally structured and supervised. Collaboration among agencies is common and extensive.  We have also noticed several similarities among services here in England and those at home.  Similar problems and needs seem to exist here in communities, and so services and programs are also similar.  The need for increased funding, support, and professionals is also a common theme. 

Don’t worry, it hasn’t been all work and no play! We have found the time to visit several cultural sites, including the Canterbury Cathedral and various museums.  We have dined on delicious food, enjoyed the pub-style nightlife, and of course, done LOTS of shopping! The grass is green, and the temperature balmy!



Filed under Student Voices

The Adventure Continues

Catharine Cashner, Director of International Programs, here on blog writing duty today.  I have really enjoyed watching our students explore a new city, and new country, on this study abroad program.

After the first two days seeing some of the famous sites in Canterbury, we began the program in earnest on Monday.  Bright and early Monday morning, we walked to Canterbury Christ Church University for a welcome from Bob Cecil and Beverly Murray, social work professors here in Canterbury.  Bob then gave us an introduction and overview on social work in the UK context.  After the lecture, we tried out the student cafeteria (or “canteen”, as they would say here), then met Jayne Anne Kilvington of the International Office for a short orientation and tour of campus.  The walk back from campus took us past King’s School, the oldest school in the United Kingdom, just as the students in their smart uniforms were leaving school.  The school is what we would call private, and what the British call a “public” school.  (The subtle differences between British and American English frequently have us guessing as to the exact meaning of a word, but we are hoping to be nearly fluent at the end of our two weeks here.)   The ancient city walls of Canterbury were on our right side, and the towers of Canterbury Cathedral peek over the rooftops, so finding our way back home was easy.

On Tuesday, the students sat in on a lecture with Canterbury social work students, and the afternoon was our first visit to an agency dealing with substance abuse.  The students will be sharing their impressions of their visits later in the week, so I will let them describe the visit.  After a few days visiting the more touristy parts of town, this was our first trip outside of the city center, to an area with lumber yards and tire stores, instead of the candy stores and quaint restaurants we have become used to seeing. 

The students have settled themselves into the residence hall where we are all staying, which has become virtually a Mount Mercy colony in Canterbury, since we have the building almost to ourselves.  It comes complete with kitchens, although we have not had time to do much more than boil water for coffee and tea.

We’ll start off early tomorow morning with a seminar, then a museum visit, so I will sign off now.


Filed under Student Voices