Study Abroad in Canterbury - Week 5
October 22, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Cody Zulkowski '20, Psychology Major
Living in Canterbury, England these past five weeks has proven to be one of the greatest experiences of my life so far! We are officially over the one-month mark and each of us has successfully managed to adapt to our new culture and surroundings, establishing daily routines based on our class schedules at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). Looking back at how nervous and anxious we all were at the start of our journey here in the UK, I’m both surprised and proud of all of us for adjusting as well as we have. My experience so far has been trying to find a balance between traveling and experiencing new places along with the responsibility of schoolwork and classes. For most of us, that’s taken the form of focusing on classes and work during the week and taking trips on the weekend when affordable.
In the course of the month, I’ve managed to get used to things I thought I would never adjust to, including different types of food, the bigger slices of bread found in the stores, and the very small washing machines that are commonplace here. Although my legs have adjusted to all the walking we do and I’m now used to which side of the road the vehicles drive on, I still jump out of fright when a double-decker bus passes me as I’m walking down the sidewalk. But I’ve come to appreciate the differences I initially thought were weird, such as how compact everything is compared to the U.S., the efficient and accessible public transportation system, and the different use of the English language – like the British using the word trousers instead of saying pants.
The change I’ve noticed most in myself is my confidence. A month ago, I was terrified of the fact that I was living in a country so far away from the surroundings I am familiar with. This whole experience was initially completely out of my comfort zone. I was nervous to walk anywhere in town alone for fear of getting lost, or plan trips on my own since I was unaware of how the transportation system worked. Over time, my confidence improved as I attained the knowledge I needed to be successful in this environment. There were some struggles in the first few weeks that made it difficult, but overall my experience so far has been majorly positive!
This week in our Sites & Sights class, we discussed the importance of English Castles and had the opportunity to go and explore three castles – Dover, Deal, and Walmer. We learned that these castles all played unique parts in England’s history. Their primary function was defense from invaders, so these castles were built at certain landmarks that would make invading difficult for those who tried. Over time, the designs and overall functions of the castles changed, and these changes can give us an insight into what was important in England during those time periods, so getting the chance to look at these castles first-hand was surreal.
The first castle we viewed was Dover Castle which was built-in 1066 by William the Conqueror to prevent anyone from invading England in the same way he managed to. A century later, Henry II added onto the castle to gain a more positive image and rebuild his status after the controversy of Thomas Beckett’s murder, with his renovations being completed by 1190. Like most castles, it was primarily built for defense and located on a large hill that makes sieging it seem impossible. It remained until the 1500s when artillery power increased.
Dover Castle continued to be highly important, especially during both World Wars where it became the control center for the evacuation of Dunkirk, saving over 300,000 troops. This castle was by far the grandest in scale, being considered a concentric castle (a castle within a castle), and was the most preserved out of the three. We walked along the castle walls and saw where canon defenses were placed, and we stood on the roof that overlooked everything the eye could see – even the ocean where foreign invaders would have come from! It was fascinating exploring something so big in scale that resembled a small city and being able to go underground to view its eerie tunnels which hold so much history.
Deal Castle was the second we visited and was built between 1539 and 1540 by Henry VIII in preparation for war. Although it is smaller in scale, this castle is equally important to English heritage. For over 200 years it served as defense for boats and cargo, gradually becoming a residence rather than a military castle. This shows the shift of the changing purposes of castles over the course of history as they were used more for showing off one’s status rather than for military power.
Walmer Castle was the most notably changed out of the three castles, but it did play a significant role in the English Civil Wars when it was besieged. While there, we walked along the grand and beautiful garden that historical figures have also walked which has made Walmer Castle unique.
All of these castles played an integral role in England's rich history and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see and explore them in person!