FOR THE QC
After gently tucking my passport away, I nestled into the comfort that only economy seats on an international flight could provide. Resting my head against the wall of the plane, I closed my eyes just as the tail of the plane passed over New York’s perimeter and into the darkness of the Atlantic.
When I opened them again, I was greeted by the sunlit horizon of Great Britain. By the time the plane came to a complete stop at our gate, I had already unbuckled my seatbelt and slipped on my coat, ready to brave the cold English weather that inevitably lay ahead. As I waited for the arrival of my classmates at the airport, I saw that my phone was pointless, unless tethered to an unpredictable WiFi network. Despite the fact that my smartphone, far out of reach of my coverage area was rendered useless, the realization that I was truly in another country, let alone continent, hadn’t struck until I was riding the Piccadilly line straight to Holborn station.
Though I had grown up only a few hours’ drive from Canada, I had never ventured outside of the United States. While the landscapes that blurred by the speeding trains were reminiscent of the place I called home, it was still distinctly different. Suburban homes lined the English countryside, just steps from every stop on the way to Central London. Upon a closer look, however, the cracks that marked each building echoed a history much more substantial than the one possessed by the U.S. itself. Buildings dated back several centuries, holding stories and memories that one could only imagine.
Although I admittedly spent far too many years idealizing London, I had been warned that much of the city that had been romanticized through media portrayals was severely commercialized. Beyond that, though, London is merely a large city – home to families, students, employees, and tourists, just as any other large-scale city may be.
Associate Professor of English Language and Literature Sean Morris, the faculty member leading the trip, had spent the semester prior introducing us to Chaucer’s works, predominantly The Canterbury Tales. Upon our arrival in London, he laid out the foundation for us to complete our own pilgrimages, in addition to the one completed by the pilgrims in Chaucer’s tales – whether that be venturing out to 221B Baker Street to see Sherlock Holmes’ house as it had been depicted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or to visit the studios that had housed our favorite wizarding trio as they grew up. Every place we visited resonated with each of us in a different manner for a different reason.
Without a doubt, our adventures in London were absolutely unforgettable, but one of my favorite moments from our trip was when we actually ventured on the last leg of the journey that the pilgrims would have taken en route to Canterbury. We began at a church on the outskirts of the town and travelled back while the Canterbury Cathedral loomed ahead of us.
It seemed to me to be the quintessential ending to our last full day in England. It wasn’t until we reached our final street that it had dawned on me that almost as suddenly as our adventure had begun, it was then coming to a close. While we may not have shared our tales in the Middle English language, we did have an amazing host and an abundance of memories that were worth more than a free meal at the Tabard Inn.