The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Across the Pond

Falling in love with Winchester
Across+the+Pond+visual+made+by+Maggie+O%E2%80%99Brien.
Photo by Maggie O
Across the Pond visual made by Maggie O’Brien.

Editors note: “Across the Pond” is an on-going column in which freelance writers Ella Freeman, Kyra Price and Maggie O’Brien will be writing about their study abroad experiences in Winchester, England and across Europe.

After a long and stressful fall semester, touching down in England was the greatest feeling I could have asked for. 

To back it up just a bit, this was my first time traveling outside the United States, and choosing to move to a different country for four months was a daunting task. 

Not only did I have to figure out things like immigration and international flights for the first time, I had to do it while lugging my (slightly above) 50-pound suitcase through the airport. 

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Through all the stress of traveling and the grueling 8-hour flight, we touched down in London, and a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Not literally, as my backpack was almost 20 pounds. 

But the realization that I had made it, that my childhood dream of living in England was happening, was weight lifted enough. 

After a couple of hours of waiting in the airport and a short bus ride, we arrived at my new home, the University of Winchester. 

My friends and I were geeking out about everything. Something about being half a world away makes the birds sing louder and the trees grow greener. 

My first week in Winchester felt like a lifetime in itself. By the first Saturday, my hodophile friends and I had already made our way to Camden Market in London, and nearly every local shop within a 2-mile radius of the campus.  

I had already fallen in love with the city and the delight of exploring all its nooks and crannies. One of my favorite finds came when walking down a side street. Tucked between two buildings was a large sign that simply said “books” with an arrow pointing to a doorway.

The intriguing sign. (Photo by Ella Freeman)

Upon further examination, it turned out to be a three-story bookstore filled with used books.

I could have spent an entire afternoon caressing the spines of these well-loved books, but I don’t think my already overweight suitcase and my love for old books could handle me spending any more than 15 minutes in The Winchester Bookshop: Antiquarian & Secondhand Books.

My love for old things doesn’t stop at books and I have been thoroughly satisfied living in such a historical city. 

Winchester was the first capital of England and one of the only cities in England to suffer minimal damage during the World Wars, sustaining its stunning architecture.  

The architecture in Winchester has been truly magnificent to take in. From the everyday architecture of the schools and homes to the monument that is the Cathedral of Winchester.  

Walking into the Cathedral for the first time was something I will never forget. The beauty of the intricate craftsmanship is something you can’t comprehend through photos. My friend, Maggie, and I felt ourselves getting emotional the further we walked into the historic temple.  

Within this Cathedral is the burial sight of celebrated (and personal favorite) author Jane Austen. Seeing her grave lined with flowers and letters was extraordinarily special. I can’t wait to write and leave her a letter during the final weeks of my journey. 

Letters and flowers for Jane Austen 205 years after her death. (Photo by Ella Freeman)

These first few weeks of my study abroad have come with small challenges, like adjusting to being the odd-man-out in a new country, and constantly being 6 hours out of contact with my friends and family. 

But, despite these challenges, the joys of this immersive and uniquely once-in-a-lifetime experience are the things I will carry with me for a lifetime. 

I can’t wait for the weeks and months to come. 

Freeman can be reached at [email protected].

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