Study Abroad in Canterbury - Week 4

October 14, 2019 | 2:30 PM
Ravin Kibbons '19, Psychology Major

My experience studying abroad in Canterbury has been nothing less than amazing! Within the past month, I’ve explored the city streets of Canterbury to find new places to visit – whether it may be a restaurant, store or pub! I’ve also experienced traveling to other cities in England, such as London and Brighton. Both of these cities are so beautiful in their own unique ways and I am so thankful and ecstatic that I had the experience to travel to those places. Traveling to different cities within England or to a different country is so easy and accessible with the public transportation systems here, and, so far, I’ve been able to travel by bus and train. My personal favorite is the train because the tickets are cheap, the rides are smooth and comfortable, and they allow me to get to my destination within a reasonable amount of time without worrying about the crazy rush hour or the London traffic.

Also, within the first month of my semester in Britain, I’ve also made many observations about fashion, law enforcement and how people interact with one another here. Having Canterbury being so close to one of the largest fashion industries in London, I feel like everyone has such great style and it really makes me want to buy a new wardrobe! I’ve noticed that there’s not as much visible law enforcement presence here because Canterbury is one of the safest cities to live in, and everyone is much friendlier and more caring here in Canterbury than what I’ve experienced in Illinois. I’ve also enjoyed meeting new people in my classes and at my accommodation court (a.k.a. the dorms)! I’m enjoying living on my own with my flatmates, attending and participating in my classes, and having weekly lunches with Dr. Joe to discuss our academics and our overall experiences.

Along with having the time of my life here in Canterbury, I’ve also faced many challenges that I’ve had to overcome. One of these challenges includes trying to figure out how to carry all of my grocery bags from ASDA (like Walmart) without having an arm fall off! Another struggle I’ve had is remembering to look the opposite way to make sure a car isn’t coming before crossing the road. Just within my first week here I faced numerous challenges like trying to familiarize myself with the British pound currency, becoming used to the British accents and having self-discipline when it comes to my academics. At Canterbury Christ Church University, the British style of education gives the students more independence and students are expected to keep up with their readings and studying without much guidance. Whereas, back in the States, professors have specific assignments due every other session along with studying for various, smaller exams and quizzes. Therefore, it has been a struggle for me to stay focused on my readings outside of class.

This past week in my Sights and Sites class, we discussed the significance of London’s early population growth with the migration of Jewish immigrants to the United Kingdom back in the 18th century. The Jewish migration was caused by a series of events that had happened in the 1880s within the Russian Empire, which then led to attacks on Jews in countries such as Russia and Poland. During this time, the government enforced new laws that restricted the Jewish people from owning land, moving to other villages and getting a proper education. They also weren’t allowed to have certain professions, such as being a lawyer or medical doctor. As the decade continued, new acts were passed which gave the Jewish people more equality and resulted in the migration of more than 400,000 Jewish immigrants into London.

We then had the opportunity to take a walking Jewish Tour of East London to visit some of the historic synagogues and soup kitchens. East London used to have 200 synagogues where Jews could meet for religious purposes. We also stopped by an old soup kitchen where 6,500 bowls of soup or stew were made for the immigrants per day. Our tour guide also mentioned a lot of other significant buildings that were still in operation back at that time, but most of the buildings in East London had been damaged and/or removed after the World War II bombings of London. During our tour, it was also very fascinating to look at the street art that covered the city streets of London. Overall, the tour was very informative and it gave me a better understanding of how Jewish immigrants had a large impact on the population growth of London back in the late 18th century.

Equally important, from the research and information that we have discussed in class about the Jewish migration, and how the Jews were treated at such times, I am reminded of the migration issues and policies that are happening today in the United States. Compared to London, even though they did not first accept the Jews migrating into their land, their eventual migration has helped to shape and build London into the beautiful city that it is today.

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