Special to the Weekend Advisor
My name is Shelley Gentry and I am a student of Thompson Rivers University. I spent the last five months finishing my Bachelor of Arts Degree in the United Kingdom.
Upon my return I decided to apply for the Global Competency Recognition Award. To obtain this award, I am required to write a communication piece describing my travels and my adventures along the way, and trust me there have been many.
On Dec. 31, 2012 I left the Williams Lake Airport with three oversized suitcases, and my travel companion Tiramisu; a fuzzy Canadian moose in a navy sweater with a red maple leaf on his foot, a parting gift from TRU.
Between plane layovers and bus connections, it took almost 24 hours to reach Plymouth, my final destination.
I was exhausted but at the same time ready to explore my new home for the next five months. The first day was off to a rough start; I had slept in, had trouble working the shower and my flat iron was smoking and ticking like a bomb.
So much for the seventy dollar converter I had purchased. After struggling to read a map and realizing it was upside down, I finally made my way to campus. The first few days were a stressful whirlwind of finding accommodations, getting to know the campus, purchasing all my living essentials, and enrolling in courses. It took a few weeks to get settled in and meet friends. I was in awe of the British accents and couldn’t help but purposely ask people to repeat what they were saying just to hear it again. I was equally amazed to know that people enjoyed hearing my Canadian accent.
I wanted to take full advantage of my time in the U.K., so I had planned a twenty four day trip during the month-long Easter Holiday. My trip would include twelve cities and thirteen train journeys. At first I was terrified at the prospect of travelling alone in a foreign country. The night that I was leaving I was frantically packing as the cabby was pulling up to drive me to the bus station. I had never been on a train and would have to take several trains most with connections, and being on time has never been one of my strong points. I arrived in the nick of time on several occasions, with the train door just closing behind me. I would start in the historic city of Canterbury, the destination of Chaucer’s Pilgrims and visit the Canterbury Cathedral. From here I would head to the capital of London, where I would spend four days exploring sites such as the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. London would be the only city during my journey that I would have a companion other than Tiramisu. From London I would see the university town of Cambridge, The Jorvik Viking Centre in York (also home of the the Kit-Kat bar) and Durham where I climbed 325 stairs to the steeple top. I had always wanted to ride a red double-decker bus, and in Glasgow I finally got my chance. I took a tour and was able to see all of the city’s main sites. I was able to see great modern architecture such as the bridge that the Scots refer to as the “Squinty Bridge.” Although I liked Glasgow I was in awe of Edinburgh. The city itself was gorgeous and it had all the basic tourist needs: a castle, a palace and an abundance of tartan. Here you could look up your family name and see your clans tartan, which was available for purchase. It is safe to say not many tourists leave Scotland without some tartan treasure. After my stay in Scotland I headed back to England and toured Manchester, the city known for its football. While there I was able to watch a Manchester United versus Manchester City game in a local pub. The atmosphere was amazing. You could feel the excitement all around. After this, I headed to the city of Liverpool, home of the Beatles. Here, I took a tour of the Beatles’ history, which started with their origins as young boys and followed their life right through to their chart topping hits. After a few more stops, I arrived in a small Welsh village, Ewenny, 30 minutes away from the capital of Cardiff. Here I was able to stay with James, a friend I had met from school, and his family.
While I was in the UK I was also able to travel to many other countries including Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy.
All these experiences shaped me in a positive way. I know that the ties I made in the UK will be life-long friendships. I would highly encourage other students to study abroad. Not only does studying in another country enrich an individual’s life and make them a more, well-rounded and a culturally diverse person, but it is a great aspect to add to a resume and show future employers. I am positive that the Global Competency Recognition Award will help me in the future with prospective employers, and will make my transcript more competitive when applying for post-grad school.