Thursday, May 2, 2013

Host UK

Today marks the end of official classes at Bangor...

A few weeks ago now I participated in another program offered to students studying in the UK,  Host UK.  Host UK is designed for students spending the semester abroad away from family and want a weekend away from campus to spend in a home-like setting.   You fill out a simple questionnaire about yourself (allergies, how far you are willing to travel, dates, etc.).  Your application is then submitted to a Regional Advisor who then matches you with a family.  I originally signed up for the weekend because I thought it would be a neat way to learn more about the culture I was living in.  

I was matched up with a host who lived not too far outside of Crewe, England and had a dog.  My host also told me she was inviting another student from Japan who was studying in the UK to come visit the same weekend.  I admit, I was a bit nervous for this weekend because they both were complete strangers, but I'm so glad I did it because I now have some new friends!

I met my Host at the train station where we agreed to meet.  I was unfortunately the last to arrive due to train delays but I made it!  We then headed out to my Host's house for dinner and to get to know one another.  It was a nice relaxing evening.  My nerves slowly slipped away that night.

Our one full day we spent sight-seeing.  My Host took us to a part of Wales I had never been before for the morning.  We spent part of the morning driving around Llangollen.  We unfortunately couldn't find a place to park in town since it was such a beautiful day and everyone decided to come out for it!  However, we found one right outside of town near the Pontcysyllte Aqueducts.  It was cool to see an operational aqueduct which allows boats to use too!
Afterwards she took us around to see more sights between Llangollen and her house.  It was really nice just see more of the are where I'm living and to spend some time exploring.  In the afternoon she took us to Shrewsbury.  It was a beautiful town with a lot of history in it.  We walked through the entire town before getting a cup of tea at the movie theater cafe which was built inside one of the older buildings in town.
A memorial to Charles Darwin
One of the older buildings in town
After our cup of tea, we headed down to the park where a huge garden festival happens every year.  It wasn't going on during my stay but the gardens were still very pretty to walk around and see.

Reminded me of St. Mike's when I walked by
To end our wonderful day, my Host took us to a Jazz concert in her town.  I was by far the youngest person there (well other than my friend from Japan).  It was a lot of fun and the food was delicious!!  We even had a running joke that I made the waldorf salad which my host actually made.  Hey you gotta have a little fun sometimes!
The Jazz Band
We won the raffle!! 
It was sad when Sunday arrived because that meant I was leaving.  My host took us to Hawkstone Hall for mass.  Hawkstone Hall is a large early 18th century country mansion  which is run by the Sisters of St. Paul (I'm pretty sure, I can't find confirmation on this).   It was beautiful and the sheep greeted us upon arrival.  Even though we were just visiting we were welcomed right away.  We were even invited for tea and coffee afterwards!

The sheep
Hawkstone Hall
 I was sad when my time came to close but was glad I took advantage of this opportunity.  It was definitely worth while because I tried food I wouldn't have otherwise tried and made a friend I wouldn't have otherwise met!
My host, Poppy
My new friend, Mai
My actual host and I

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