Since I've been here, I've heard multiple British people say, "London is not England." I can understand where they're coming from, since I feel the same way about France when visitors see Paris for two days and feel like they've covered the country. I silently scream, "There is so much more to it!" I'm guessing the Brits living in more rural areas would say the same to an American who thinks that if she sees London, she has seen it all. Thanks to short trips (shoutout to IES Abroad field trip organizers!) over the last few months, I've been able to see areas of England outside of London. I visited Windsor, Bath, Salisbury, Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Liverpool, Canterbury, Dover, and Brighton. While I still don't feel like I've seen most of what England has to offer, I do have a little sense of the country and its people outside of London.
These smaller cities, towns, and villages are undoubtedly quainter than London, which is a bustling hub of five bajillion cultures, shops, restaurants, languages, museums, tourists, and double-deckers smushed into a lil blob in southern England. And don't get me wrong, I love that lil blob. It amazes me on a daily basis with its inability to let me become bored. However, when you need a breath of fresh air and some space to stretch your legs, you just have to flee the hubub of London and its 8 million inhabitants.
As I've mentioned before, living in such a metropolis makes me appreciate natural landscapes in a way that I don't when I'm at home in the states, where I have ample room to hike, run around, kayak, etc. I haven't usually considered myself a rough-n-tumble nature lover (don't even ask me to let a spider escape my sight alive), but as I get opportunities to see more of the world, I also learn about what kinds of spaces make me feel most like myself. As a realitively high-energy person, I like plenty of opportunities to stay busy and doubt that living in a sleepy village full-time would fit my personality (cabin fever, anyone?). Nevertheless, the appeal of cutesy little towns provides such a calming balance to the hustle of daily city life. The air is a bit cleaner and the people are definitley friendlier. In visiting smaller cities, I've come to realize that perhaps my ideal home isn't a metropolitan apartment after all, but rather a home where I can step outside and walk to the sea. Better yet, I'll take an inner-city apartment and a country cottage. I better get working on that.
In the meantime, take a peek at some shots from my trips outside of this crazy "lil blob" we call London.
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<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. One day, you'll probably find me living in Paris. If you can't find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>