Illinois State University history-social sciences teacher education major Kelly Papanicholas recently shared this dispatch from England, where she is student teaching during the spring 2016 semester:

Exploring England and Paris

So far on this trip I have loved my experience in England!

Our town of Eastbourne is along the sea a few towns away from Brighton. Eastbourne has a nice town center that has a vast amount of tiny shops and bigger department stores such as Primark, Next, and Marks and Spencer. While I was in town, I stopped at a pub called the Duke of Devenshire where I ate the largest ice cream sundae topped with whipped crème, marshmallows, and biscuits (cookies as we would say in America)! It was delicious.

Kelly Papanicholas poses in Europe

Kelly Papanicholas, left, during her trip to Europe.

Our school is at the end of the road from our house. The staff there is warm and welcoming and the students are great too. The pupils range from ages 11–16. The students take GCSEs their final year at school, which are standardized tests in order for them to get into college where they take more specialized subjects. The school is very involved in the performing arts and has student artwork displayed all along the walls. The school also has two drama departments and even did a performance of The Crucible! The school also is the ball boys and girls for the International Tennis Tournament. This ball crew practices most afternoons and it is a high honor to be apart of.

So far we have been to Stonehenge, which is the one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Stonehenge is a prehistoric burial cite. It is amazing to be in England because there is such history all around us. Even in our town, we stumble across old buildings and centuries old pubs. Stonehenge was incredible to see and it was amazing because as you walked around Stonehenge there were sheep grazing as well! That day we also went to the city of bath, where we got to take a tour around the Roman Baths. The Roman Baths used to be above ground, but have since sunken into the ground over time. There was even a hot tub like bath where people would go to relax as well. The Baths were extremely intricate and had multiple places to bath around the site. I also was able to explore the abbey and witness the choir practicing. The Abby had graves built into the wall.

We also were able to explore London. The tube is very easy to travel on and takes you around to all the best spots. From taking pictures in front of Big Ben in a phone box to exploring Westminster Abbey, we were able to see all the major monuments of London. The amount of history behind this city was incredible. We had the chance to see the Queen’s Tea at Fortune and Mason and look at the delicious biscuits there too! My favorite part had to be the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. It was incredible to see the Royal Crown the other crown jewels. There were also statues all over the tower of animals that had been gifts to the Royal Family from other countries. The Tower Bridge was very exciting to walk under and even more magnificent that the Brooklyn or Gold Gate Bridge. (Both of which I’ve been to as well! I like my bridges.)

Kelly poses in front of water

Kelly Papanicholas during her trip to Europe.

Paris was also enchanting to explore! When we arrived, our group took a boat tour along the river, which was an amazing way to see all of Paris. We took loads of pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower and even went to the top. The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is one that I will never forget; you can see all of Paris. We also were able to take a tour around Paris by coach and stopped at the Louvre. The Mona Lisa is a lot smaller in person. Loads of tourists from all over were crowded in front to have the change to take a picture in front of the Mona Lisa. That afternoon I had crepes for lunch in front of the Arc de Triomphe!

What impressed me the most was when we went to Versailles to see the palace. The entire palace is made mostly of gold. This makes it easy to see why the peasants revolted! As we walked behind the golden gate that guarded the palace, we saw marble and gold for miles.  The gardens themselves were very intercut and we actually got lost in them on our way to trying to find Marie Antoinette’s estate.