Travel Blog Post from Kelly Mielke…..

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In March 2014, I was part of a group of undergraduate and graduate students that travelled abroad to the United Kingdom as Part of an interdisciplinary course, “In Search of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.” Over the course of a ten day trip that encompassed various locations across southern England and Wales, the group travelled to various cathedrals and sites associated with King Arthur.

A travel grant from the Graduate School at the College of Charleston helped to fund my time abroad, providing an intellectually and culturally enriching experience.

The trip included many cathedrals, which was very exciting for me as I have taken and enjoyed art history courses in the past. The opportunity to personally see cathedrals that I had studied was certainly exciting. The architecture was exquisite. This picture was taken at Winchester cathedral on Saturday, March 1.

The next day, March 2, was one of the more travel-intensive days of the trip but included both Stonehenge and Tintagel. The weather on this day also makes it one of the more memorable days. While at Stonehenge in the morning, it was cold and drizzly but nothing more intense than I had expected from England. En route from Stonehenge to Tintagel the rain increased. While climbing up the rocky hillside at Tintagel, the rain increased to a downpour and it became extremely windy. This was when I realized that investing in a waterproof coat prior to the trip had been a really wise decision. Nonetheless, the views of the coast at Tintagel were gorgeous, and I would love to visit the area again—hopefully with more optimal weather next time!

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One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting Bath on March 5. Bath is a Georgian-style town and bears some architectural similarities many structures in Charleston that were built around the same time, but with greatly differing color schemes—the uniformly earthy-toned buildings in Bath contrast starkly from the bright, colorful buildings of Charleston. The Roman Baths were wonderful to visit. The baths are remarkably well preserved and feature a comprehensive museum exhibit and audio tour. Visitors also have the opportunity to taste the bath water, which is extremely high in minerals, and water from the baths is also available for purchase in the gift shop.

Another one of the highlights of the trip was London, where the final two days were spent. Most of the time in London was unstructured free time and it was nice to explore at leisure, although two days is not enough time to fully experience all that the city of London has to offer. After our arrival in London we went to the British Library as a group. The British Library was very nice, although one of the rooms was closed for renovations and set to reopen the day after our visit.

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The last day of the trip spent in London was very fun and included a trip to Harrods. This is by far the largest department store that I have ever been in and I took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on tea and chocolate as gifts for friends and family. A particular highlight of this final day was finding Abbey Road Studios and having my picture taken while crossing Abbey Road. I have been a huge Beatles fan for years and years, so it was very exciting for me!

Overall, studying abroad was an enriching experience. I had never gone abroad as an undergraduate student, so I am glad that I took advantage of this opportunity and grateful for the funds from the Graduate School that enabled me to do so. It added immensely to the content of the class to personally experience the places and history that we had studied and definitely enriched my course of study as a graduate student.

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