When I stepped out of the Heathrow Airport, it was early June but it was the cold weather greeted me. It didn’t help that I was wearing sandals so my toes were freezing. I was not expecting this. When I left New York, the summer heat wave had just begun so this was sort of a surprise. Welcome to England! I quickly threw on a sweater, changed into boots, and made my way into central London. I was here because I was graciously invited to visit the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury. I spent my graduate year in Belgium at the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), part of the University of Kent. Though I had been to London once before grad school, I was not able to visit the Canterbury campus during my studies so I was excited to visit for the first time. I am a born and bred New Yorker from Brooklyn, and having been home for the past year it was a welcome change.
But first London… it was so good to be back! I made my way down onto Oxford Street where the hustle and bustle of the large shopping area brought me back to life. There are shops there that are not in New York so it gave me an excuse to pick up a couple of new items. I also went to Borough Market where I tasted different flavors from all around Europe and other parts of the world. It helped that there were free samples everywhere. I took a long stroll down the Thames, and stood in the silhouette of the London Eye. After, I made my way to Hyde Park for a bit of calm after the storm. A couple of days into my stay I met up with the wonderful people who organized my trip, Alison Coles and Kayleigh Bampton. We went to meet with Dr Chris Pell, a donor of the University and alumnus who was so gracious to sponsor my trip. He, Alison, and I met during an alumni event in New York City. We, along with Alison’s assistant Kayleigh, had a delicious lunch at the Royal Air Force Club. The food was amazing, and I learned a bit about the history of the RAF Club as well. We ended up having a great time where I learned more about the University as well as discussed its future with the Brexit vote looming ahead. This was on everyone’s mind, including mine, and it made for a great discussion.
Soon it was time to head out to Canterbury. Upon arrival, I breathed in heavily… the slower pace was a welcome change. Though the weather had been rainy and cold in London, in Canterbury the sun shined bright. The cathedral, where all the Canterbury degree congregation ceremonies are held, stood out the most. I was not able to attend my own graduation ceremony so it was great to see the cathedral in its entire splendour. After, I made my way to the Beverly Farmhouse, a small, cute cottage on campus and settled in.
Over the next couple of days I enjoyed my time immensely in Canterbury, even having the chance to eat a traditional English breakfast at Rutherford College, which was quite tasty. I met up with Claire Tanner of the School of Politics and International Relations, who set up a talk with students about my time as an intern at the United Nations. As it was exam time we figured maybe ten will show up, so we were quite surprised to see about 45 students packed into a classroom wanting to hear my experiences at the UN. I talked about my time there and gave some key advice about the internship and the international development field. I hope everyone there took away some great information that will help boost their careers in the global field. I had a great time at the University and am sure I will head back to visit again.
I headed back to London where I had one last lunch with Dr Pell and his lovely wife Liz at the Royal College of Defence Studies. Dr Pell and his wife are two great hosts who showed me around the college while giving me advice for places to see on my last days in London.
I really enjoyed my visit to Canterbury; I hope to visit again in the future. I am proud to be an alumna of this great university.