This weekend was full of a vast variation of different experiences all in just a couple of days. To start out, Stratford was a pretty big deal for me as an English major studying Shakespeare; I actually even wrote about that experience in particular in my essay to apply for study abroad! That being said, it was wonderful to be in a town with such a powerful presence of a playwright I’ve spent so much time studying. It was surreal to think he’s walked down those same streets. My highlight from that location was definitely getting to see his birthplace and hear some of the history of how a childhood would have looked back then.
Moving on to Bath, I really enjoyed this area. I went in with no expectations because I hadn’t really heard of that area talked about too much, which I prefer so I can form my own thoughts about it. Something I noticed about British culture in Bath was how sociable everybody seemed to be. From meeting a woman and her telling me her whole life story in one night, to getting to sing with a street performer, to having loads of conversations with people my age at pubs, I definitely felt like the community in Bath was a special one. There were tons of university aged people there to talk to and make connections with, and I appreciated that there were more locals than tourists in my experience there.
As we travel more, I learn that British culture is widely portrayed in the media as London culture, when there is a lot more to it. I felt like I experienced more British culture and history in the countryside, just because the people felt so much more real and were willing to have such rich conversations with complete strangers. History is so important when forming culture. The history of Bath helped create the Bath that we know and visited today, and it wouldn’t be there without that visit from the Queen that our tour guide told us about all those years ago. It seems that her interest in Bath helped turn it into a tourist and vacation destination that has helped it to flourish economically, while maintaining that countryside charm and authenticity today. Bath is definitely somewhere I’d want to visit again. Additionally, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle were just icing on the cake of an incredible weekend!