Travelling is not a mere entertainment for well-off people who wish to escape their routine. In fact, it is a lifestyle with much to offer. When we visit a foreign country, not only do we acquire a broader cultural perspective; we also gain an invaluable experience that will help us in the future. People who travel a lot are usually more open-minded and find it easier to adapt to unexpected situations that may arise in their lives. As author Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. I therefore greatly appreciate the opportunity that I have been given to spend 6 months as an Erasmus student at the University of Canterbury in Kent.
Kent is a county in the southeastern corner of Great Britain. It has long been considered the Garden of England, mainly because of its beautiful orchards and idyllic rural landscapes. Agriculture is no longer the dominant sector, yet it still contributes modestly to the local economy. According to a report on the Rural Sector and Rural Businesses in Kent, 2,3% of Kent’s workforce was employed in agriculture, which may seem insignificant, but is well above the national average of 0,90%. During World War II, South East farmers in Kent and East Sussex fed the nation, producing wagon loads of apples, pears, gallons of beer and tons of cereal crops, as this BBC article attests.
Kent is also a popular tourist destination, with its numerous monuments and breathtaking settings. A recent report reveals that 95% of Kent visitors rated their holiday in the county as either good or excellent. The Kent coastline is particularly attractive, boasting a large number of seaside resorts, including the towns of Margate and Ramsgate. The crown jewel in Kent, however, is clearly Canterbury, where I will be staying.
Canterbury is a city of roughly 40,000 inhabitants. Despite of its small size, it has a great relevance in England, as it is the headquarters for the Church of England. It is therefore the spiritual center for Anglicans in the UK and all over the world. Canterbury’s ancient Cathedral was designated World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on 9th December, 1988. Canterbury Castle is another popular spot, and is a leading tourist attraction in the city, second only to the Cathedral. The old part of the town is very picturesque, with its Tudor style houses and paved streets.
Apart from being a place with a rich cultural and historic heritage, Canterbury is also a top-notch educational center. Despite its small size, four universities are located within city limits: the University of Kent, the University College for the Creative Arts, Christ Church University and Girne American University. Owing to its large student population, the city has a very dynamic and vibrant nightlife.
Taking all this into account, I’m really looking forward to starting my stay at Canterbury. I think it will be an invaluable experience, at both the academic and personal levels. Getting to know the learning approach of other countries is something very enriching and fulfilling; moreover, I’m sure my English will improve exponentially, particularly my oral expression skills. I will have to communicate in English most of the time, so I hope I can polish my pronunciation, too. There’s also the non-academic side: I’m sure that it will be fascinating to meet people from all over the world and make new friends and acquaintances. I will likewise learn what being autonomous and self-sufficient means, because I will have to cook my own meals and carry out the laundry, the ironing and so on. This is indeed the scariest part of living on my own; I will have to rely on myself and take full responsibility of every single aspect. I am nevertheless very confident that everything will turn out OK and that I will have a great time in Canterbury!