Arrived yesterday in Norwich at the University of East Anglia. The university provided us with a coach transfer from London Heathrow to get here, which was great – after spending the past couple weeks always having to constantly figure out where I’m going, what I’m doing, what I’m eating, and where I’m sleeping, it was very relaxing to just get on the coach and let it carry me to the university. My dorm room here is just a standard, small size, but after spending the past four nights in a ten-bed hostel room, both the space and the privacy feel downright luxurious.
Today was our first day of activities, starting with a welcome brunch, followed by guided tours of the campus as well as the city of Norwich.
On the UEA campus.
The day finished with a classic afternoon tea, which the summer school organizers described as “the most British thing they could think of for us to do”. Despite being called “tea”, the meal included a great deal more. There was tea, of course, as well as sarsapilla (kind of like a cheap champagne), platters of sandwiches, an assortment of cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam. The tea room itself was in a room built onto the side of the Norwich Cathedral, which was very pretty.
During afternoon tea, I sat with someone each from Morocco, Turkey, Mexico, Australia, and France (plus me – Canada). It felt perfectly natural, and then all of a sudden it hit me how unlikely it was that that particular combination of people, and those specific individuals, would all find themselves sitting and drinking tea together in an English cathedral. The conversation roamed from our hometowns, to politics, to the proper way to eat a scone, to religion. The program is made up of students from literally all over the world, all with different cultural backgrounds and personal opinions and perspectives; classes don’t start until Tuesday, but I’ve already started learning.