Happy New Year from Leicester!

Hello All,

After a surprise visit home and a week-long trip to Ireland, I have made it back safe and sound to Leicester, ready to start classes tomorrow. It’s been a fun few weeks, but will get very busy from here on!

Just before the break I had gone on another hike in Leicestershire, but winter weather has finally hit: average January high is in the mid-40s! Fahrenheit of course, I see no snow in our future. I missed the first snow in Leicester anyway as I was lucky enough to fly standby home on the 17th of December. My parents were there waiting for me at O’Hare! While I only stayed 10 days, it was truly refreshing to see friends and family, my home and my dog.

But alas, on the 27th I picked up and headed back to the UK, luckier yet this time to get in on Business class! I’ll avoid bragging here. And 2 days later my friend Erica arrived from Chicago to visit me on vacation! We saw some of Leicester’s sights (contrary to popular belief, there are a few), and spent New Year’s Eve with a few of my friends. Erica was expecting to meet plenty of British people but met only international students instead.

On New Year’s Day we headed for the airport to spend a week in Ireland and Northern Ireland. We spent most of our time in lovely Dublin, with a couple rainy days spent in Belfast, and two tours out into the country and along the Giant’s Causeway (look it up). While I don’t have enough time here to talk about everything we saw in Ireland, it was enjoyable to travel with a friend (and conveniently a good way to get over jet-lag). Since I got back to Leicester on the 7th of January I have been getting ready for my next essay, and my next trip. Don’t sound so surprised!

The complimentary pint at the end of the brewery tour!


CS Hike Bosworth Battlefield

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Did another hike a few weekends ago, with a few couchsurfers. The weather was a bit colder, but we took the bus from Leicester to a tiny town called Market Bosworth, about an hour by bus. From there we hiked through fields to reach the site of the battle of Bosworth, and the visitor center there, plus a falconry demonstration! We hiked back by a different way, along the canal, the old National Railway, and ended at the pub, of course. All in a day’s work. The pictures are courtesy of Aneta.

And here is a brief description about the battle, taken from the Bosworth website (http://www.bosworthbattlefield.com/battle.htm):

Bosworth is a site of national historic significance, being the location of one of the three most important battles fought on British soil. It is the site where the Battle of Bosworth took place in 1485, and infamous as the place where King Richard III lost his life and crown to Henry Tudor and thus where the Tudor dynasty was born. Shakespeare immortalised Richard III, a King betrayed, unhorsed, surrounded by his enemies and finally calling out “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

The Wars of The Roses consisted of a series of battles fought between 1454 and 1485 by two rival branches of the same royal family for the control of the English throne. A contemporary name for the conflict was ‘The Cousins’ War’.Although some members of the houses of York and Lancaster did have white and red roses on their heraldry, the term Wars of the Roses was not used untill much later.

Between 1454 and 1471 the houses of Lancaster and York fought thirteen battles with the Yorkist Edward IV winning the eventual victory. Richard III was Edward’s youngest brother and succeeded him to the throne in 1483. Fourteen years after the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, Richard III rode into battle once more, losing his life and his throne to Henry Tudor on the 22nd August 1485.

First week at University of Leicester, UK

Hello everyone, I’ve been gone a little over a week now and I finally have a chance to update you on how I’ve been doing. The journey from Chicago to Leicester was a long one, leaving for O’Hare Airport at 1:30pm on Monday, September 27th, and after flight delays, deplaning, re-boarding, arriving, waiting for the coach etc, we arrived in Leicester at about 2:30pm local time on Tuesday the 28th. And we arrived to accommodation that was in disarray. Meaning that they weren’t prepared at all, and until Saturday evening I couldn’t even get into my room and stayed in a temporary one. The stress of a new place, feeling unsettled, and knowing no one made for a difficult first few days. And the days were filled with lots of seminars about things like life in Leicester, the grading system in the UK, and that if we skip lecture without excuse the UK Border Agency will kindly send us back home. Thanks for the warning…

Aside from all the not so good things, there were quite a few positives. I took a walking tour of Ancient Leicester and discovered that the city is nearly 2000 years old, with some of the most unique Roman ruins in England, some Anglo-Saxon history, and a town hall dating to 1380. Nice. To round out the week I went with a group to see Nottingham Castle on Saturday, of Robin Hood fame, so I took a picture with Robin’s statue! And Sunday I went to a church and was offered an amazing lunch while meeting church members, and in the evening went to the pub across the street. Meeting such an international group of students has been intriguing, especially considering that 18 countries are represented in my program alone, of about 85 people or so. I have 2 flatmates from China, 1 from Taiwan, and I still haven’t met the other because she stays in her room all the time…

But alas, classes started Monday and I can already tell that my program will be very difficult. But I won’t bore you with those details until later. I’ll leave you with a few little funny anecdotes: A Chinese girl asked me if I loved Justin Bieber, because she is crazy about him. And I was informed that the currency I had brought from home was “expired”, but a British student bought it off me saying “it will be worth something in 10 years!” And finally, the construction worker who stopped my friend to ask where she was from, and upon learning NY said “Are you talkin’ to me??” in the best Brooklyn accent that a British construction worker can be expected to give.

More soon, I’ll put pictures on facebook as well.

Ancient Roman ruins against the backdrop of modern Leicester: Jewry Wall