Our trip to England began with a dare to dream by an in-class conversation between Dr. J. and student Francisco Curiel. The dare was that anyone can do anything including seeing your favorite soccer team play a game at their location. Francisco’s dream was to see Manchester United soccer team play in Manchester, England.
Much planning and fund raising went into this trip and then the dream became a reality. On March 12, 2015, we flew to Manchester, England. The students were both excited and exhausted but eager to begin our adventure. We had an amazing English Breakfast at The Slug and Lettuce; getting 14 adults and 11 students to eat huge amounts of food so early in the morning was not easy, but somehow we all managed!
Travels to England – Greatest Highlights
The greatest highlights of Manchester were taking a guided tour of the home of Manchester United, “Old Trafford Stadium,” and of course watching the game of Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur. For many of the students, the trip could have ended there and it would have been the best trip of their lives, but there was much more in store! During our trip we stopped at seven unique restaurants where we ate fish and chips, fish pie, and shepherd’s pie, to name a few wonderful dishes.
We visited two amazing universities, the University of Manchester which has 25 Nobel laureates among its past and present students and staff, the fourth-highest number of any single university in the United Kingdom. The campus was beautiful, surrounded with the wonderful scent of blooming flowers and the enthusiasm of excited students. History was imprinted on every building from 1824 until modern times, and the guide seemed to overflow with all the knowledge of the great university.
The next university was Oxford University, the oldest university in England, which has been established as the place where England’s academic and social elite attend. Every building and student seemed like a character out of countless movies that have been filmed there. Our students were enthralled by the energy of the buildings, great historical sites, and the idea that they too could be graduates of this amazing University.
We visited two ancient Roman cities, including Chester, where we met an expert on the ancient Roman fort, who was dressed as a Roman soldier and told many wonderful and eye-opening details about the ancient Romans and their bathing rituals. In the city of Bath we saw where the Romans had utilized the geothermal energy beneath the city to create large, sophisticated, bathhouse areas. The ruins were incredible and of course all of us had to drink the thermal spring waters, which are said to heal diseases. Personally, I was feeling sick with the beginnings of a cold, drank eight glasses and was cold-free the next day!
A delightful place we visited was Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare! We visited Shakespeare’s house and learned the importance of windows, beds, and the height of the ceilings which all helped determine your taxes as well as your social status. The realization for the students and adults alike that many modern phrases and words were coined by Shakespeare was enlightening.
Most Talked-About Place We Visited
The most talked about and mysterious icon of the trip was Stonehenge. It has been thought to be an ancient temple made for the worship of ancient deities, but has also been shown to mark the summer and winter solstices, and the spring and autumn equinoxes making historians believe it was also a way to track the heavenly bodies. The students had fun posing and producing fun pictures to show family and friends. We all enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding area, where sheep frolicked freely and a modern highway was in sight. The contrast between the ancient world and modern was not lost on those who were there.
The Last Two Days
The last part of the trip was the most exciting and was jammed full of activities! During this time we saw Westminster Abbey, which made most of the adults cry from the majesty and beauty and all the history in one outstanding place. Visitors are not allowed to take photographs in the building, and in a way that was better because it is now fused in the minds of twenty-five grateful visitors. We exited and stopped for a few photos of Big Ben and the park of heroes both from the past and present. We walked briskly to Buckingham Palace where we witnessed the changing of the guard, enjoying the pomp and circumstance. We all hoped to see a glimpse of the Queen or any Royal, but, sadly, we saw none. We walked by Hyde Park and the wonderful gardens, statues and amazing scenic beauty. The park has been a popular location for movies! Some of us were able to go to the National Gallery, where we were able to see “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh. It was a place that would take a week to absorb all the beauty, but we only had forty minutes.
The Tower of London was an amazing sight to behold and the Crown Jewels were brilliant and breathtaking! Something that I did not know was that live animals lived in the Towers and even killed a few unsuspecting people. I enjoyed going to the Tower of Terror, which lived up to the hype! On our second day in London, we went to the London Eye, where we got to see all of the wonderful city of London from its great height. Next we embarked on the Thames River Cruise to Greenwich. We ended our trip to England with a visit to the British Museum, again a place that would take weeks to explore and digest, but we only had forty minutes to explore! We went to our last dinner in England with happy, grateful hearts. We were each asked to share what we enjoyed the most, many mentioned the different sites, but the very best part were the stories. The stories of traveling away from family, meeting new people and discovering how much they loved to travel!
Things We Learned on the Trip
- Christianity was responsible for stinky people for 100 years.
- Singing West End Girls in London’s West End with a group of students is an amazing experience!
- It rains in England a lot and an umbrella is a must-have at all times.
- People know what your status in life is by the umbrella you have.
- The London Tube is amazing!
- Rubina and Monique, two of the students who went on the trip, said they enjoyed getting to know all the other students and sharing the experience of exploring a new country together.
- Josiah loved getting lost with his mom in London and finding amazing “Dr. Who” collectables!
All the students came home to cheers and welcomed hugs, with memories that they will share for years to come, that is why I love to being part of such a great organization that is TIA!
Written by Karla Massey, teacher at TIA West K-1st