My Tales on Canterbury
Aryo Wibisono – 180410160063
I was initially reluctant to accept the program. It was very expensive and the teenage me thinking
that wasn’t just worth it. “I know the way you feel about the money situation, but this is a very excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge on English language.” With the way my mom comforted me to enrol on the program is very typical, really. But how anyone bar socipathic person could refuse any mother’s plead to basically sacrifice my parent’s income to better their children’s future. My wish to go abroad to an English-speaking country had crossed on my mind times before and this time I was persuaded. I will enrol on the program, a “study tour” to Canterbury, Kent. Mixed feelings of excitement and guilt entered my mind; what if my parents just doled their money out on a scam? What if the program was disappointing? The Headmaster of my school of however assuaged my worries, said that everything is taken care of and also used words similar to my mother. However, a second person’s opinions are always comforting, especially if it comes from a person I deeply respect.
So, my inner conflicts had been resolved then it was time to prepare stuffs that I would be bringing while I was abroad. I packed my clothes, prepared all of the school equipment, medicines in case I fell sick, and some money to buy some stuff over at Canterbury. A week later, all of us who enroled to this program were told to rendezvous at the front of the school gate. When I arrived on the scene, I was astonished that none of my high school acquaintances enroled on this program, though it was expected because I was the only student in my year class that was into English language (and it was also expensive) but instead I was greeted by several students from Junior high of my school and several students from outside the school. Bunch of unknown faces that joined this program meant that my social awkwardness of my teenage self were under the microscope.
Our group that consisted of a bunch of naive students and teachers from both my school and the unknown students’ school were about to travel to England. Our group’s guide met us on Soekarno-Hatta and gave us a briefing about the travel. All of her words could be summarized that it would be one hell of a long flight; or to be exact: it was a 20-hours travel with a couple transits at Brunei and Abu Dhabi. It was an excruciating experience traveling that far since it was my first time going abroad. It was worth it however, since Canterbury is a very nice town.
After we landed at an airport in London, we rendezvoused at the lobby with our study group counselor, a half-Indonesian man born and raised in England. Our level of excitement were about the same as him with ours over exploring one of the most historical landmark on England and him just generally excited he was in charge with people he shared heritage with. Throughout the two-week our, he was always very helpful and very responsive toward us.
We immediately took a bus that will deliver us to our dormitory in Canterbury. What I saw while we were in a bus were very eyeopening. The architectures of building on the sides of the streets of London are just beautiful. The architectures were clean and very modern and the one that are antiquated are very well maintained. In that moment, I had wished that Jakarta were like this. It just affirmed my belief at the time that we were unable in my lifetime achieve this kind of advancement. But again, I was blind to the rich and long history of England as back then I had only known England is just a mere country on Europe.
The dormitory were located at nice rural side of the town so there were plenty of plants and trees that made it look very pastoral. Apparently this dormitory was for expats because I saw a lot of Japanese in this dormitory. Our counselor told us that this dorm was owned by a Japanese company. That explains well why the outdoor of this place was very serene and zen-like. We were told to leave our luggage in our assigned room because we would immediately go to a small college on Canterbury Town.
The college served as some kind of meeting place for all the participants from various countries. At our first week, the counselors took us on a short tour around Canterbury, showing various districts around the famous landmark of Canterbury: The Canterbury Cathedral. They told us about story of Thomas Becket, The Archbishop of Canterbury and his feud with King Henry II that led to his assassination by King Henry. The next day, We were now took a tour inside the Canterbury Cathedral itself. Just the look from outside you could really tell how magnificent the architecture was. The style that is well-preserved from the Middle Age made it look very Gothic compared to all the modern buildings outside of the Cathedral. Then inside, we see a very grand hall that serves as the choir of the church. The visitors were forbidden from entering the hall as it is a sacred place that only the priest and bishops are allowed to use it. We were then guided to the lower level of the church. There was a stand that marked the location of the assassination of Thomas Becket took place. After a good amount of thirty minutes inside the church, which was hot like hell, ironic since this was inside the Cathedral (apparently the AC was not functioning because of the renovation that were going on in the Cathedral) we were guided outside to the cloister of the Cathedral for resting and it made sense to me because the serenity of the cloister and the soft breeze around the cloister put the body and mind at ease.
Because this is a study tour, there had to be some kind of studying activities in the part of the program which there were. We visited and partake in a small local elementary school where we share experiences in the class about our English knowledge. It was pretty interesting talking to other people of different nationalities just because of the cultural differences. After the class, we went to University of Canterbury where we took a small tour inside the building. The University also prepared us with their presentation on what they were offering on this university.
But I think the most interesting part of tour around the city on this part of the tour that we were visiting a club. Yup, tour of a night club on a study tour program. Surprisingly, our teachers weren’t mad at all. I think it’s fine to have the kids who took the study program to having fun. Besides, the bar only serving regular water, not alcohol beverages. I was told by Chancellor, our counselor, that this place was the only place for this type of nightlife around Canterbury. That showed just how small this town is.
The second week of the study tour was tour around London and Cambridge, a sort of break on Cambridge because of the universities tour and definitely a break on London. The students just shopped for things while I only bought CDs and a Monster Energy drink because carrying about £200 on a trip aboard wasn’t gonna cut it on London while everybody else brought roughly £1000 on the trip. The trip was very straightforward.
In the end, I learned the history surrounding the magnificent architecture that is Canterbury Cathedral and we, the Indonesians, were the most liked group of all the nationalities that took this study tour (that was pretty neat). The only complaint about this tour that a big portion of members in the group were very vain, and materialistic. The first thing they said when arriving to London, A certain junior high students asking the counselor are there any clothing retailers in the area. Not my type of person at all.
I arrived back again in Indonesia a typical angsty teenager, but with a glimmer of hope looking into the future. I interacted with people that at my teenager years are very radical to my views and I am very grateful of it.
Photo by: Tom Nailor