Category Archives: Professor’s Perspective

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.

 

Catharine

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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.

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The first two days

Greetings from England. After a smooth and safe journey through O’Hare International Airport, across parts of the Northern Atlantic and Heathrow International Airport, we arrived in Canterbury exhausted, but energized by our new surroundings. Catharine Cashner helped with beginning excursions through Canterbury…and ensured we remained awake until a reasonable hour when we all fell into our beds for a sound sleep.

Canterbury is a wonderful city that offers a multitude of educational, historical and shopping attractions. Today we were entertained in the Canterbury Tales Museum where the stage is set for a quick introduction (or review) of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The setting was convincing, and even included the smells of a stable! After splitting into small groups for lunch, we spent two hours touring the Canterbury Cathedral. It is more spectacular than a tourist pamplet can depict. Students took many pictures; be sure to ask to see them when we get home.

Tomorrow starts our week of Canterbury Christ Church University faculty lectures and visits to local social service agencies. Students will begin posting their blogs on January 13, 16, and 19, and will share our most recent activities and their impressions. Please continue traveling through England with us by following our blogs. Enjoy!

Oh, by the way it’s sunny and in the upper 40’s.

Cheers, Joni

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Getting ready for the journey

Associate Professor of Social Work Joni Howland and Director of International Programs Catharine Cashner are leading nine social work students to Canterbury and London, England.  In addition to having discussions and lectures with social work faculty at Canterbury Christ Church University, students will have the opportunity to visit local social service organizations and also tour cultural sites like Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle.  Follow the group’s adventures here!

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