This past week I took the time to take a step back from the hectic hustle and bustle of my London life to take a breathe. By slowing down, I was able to take in my lovely surroundings and take a look at what I have learned from my time here in the United Kingdom.
As has become custom with me, sometimes I just get on a train to get out of the city for a while. This week’s adventure included a lovely visit to Coventry. This lovely city is home to the University of Warwick. where I met with a charming gentleman who is one of the tutors (what professors are called in the UK) of the public policy taught courses. The campus itself was spotted with modern art sculptures in open courtyards that were connected to other academic areas by long winding sidewalks. The greenery was a nice breath of fresh air compared to the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets of central London. The people I met on campus were all friendly, but much like Londoners did not know where something was unless it was somewhere they frequented. However, I felt at home on the enclosed campus environment watching people bike through silent streets or stroll in small groups along sidewalks.
After an enlightening meeting with the tutor and a graduate programmes administrator I hopped on a bus to the city centre. It was exciting to share my new found passion for international development with someone who was interested to learn about my interest in public policy as well. My new found interest in international development have come from observing and working alongside those I work with at my internship.
Having a sense of renewed confidence in my future prospects I bounced off the steps of the bus and made my way to one of the three cathedrals in Coventry. St. Michel’s cathedral was almost completely destroyed during the bombings of World War II. The biggest blitz that Coventry took fire from were 14-15 November 1940 and 8-9 April 1941. During this time, St. Michael’s Cathedral was almost completely destroyed. The only remaining structures are the spire and outer walls. The result of the history that the city center has seen creates an almost hauntingly spiritual experience. When walking around and through the ruins of the Cathedral, I couldn’t help but catch my breathe at the sheer size of the structure that still stood and what it must have been like in full force.
With my skin still shivering I made my way, in a daze, to Playwright’s pub. Here, I was charmed by the Christmas decorations and homely decor. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the fish and chips I ordered. I decided to go with this classic British cuisine to top off a lovely day exploring one of the hidden treasures of the London area. While Coventry is only a half hour train ride from London, it feels much closer related to one of the older cities in southern England with all of the history integrated into modern surroundings in the cityscape.
On my way back to the train station I came across what may just be the happiest scene I have come across in weeks – a Christmas market next to Primark. For those of you who don’t know; Primark is better than Target (where I frequently much too often in the states) and I am a lover of all Christmas markets. With the smell of barbequed meats, roasted nuts, and candy floss (cotton candy) in the air I began my exploration of the market. To my amazement I only came away from this little detour having spent under 20 pounds. However, that money went to some very interesting purchases. I found fudge that was infused with a variety of different…. beverages. Then I found myself speaking with the owner of the stall who wants to expand to the United States, so I gave him my business card. Never being one to miss a networking opportunity.
This weekend I was able to put priorities on hold in order to take a break, step back, and evaluate some of the things I learned during my time in London.