By Ashley Ng
Have you ever been down a real coal mine? Watched a dramatized tour in a museum? Have you ever been to Oxford, or Cambridge, two of the most renowned English universities? Well, on 29th May, 19 students from our school had the privilege of going on a 12-day tour of the UK as part of the Eunoia GO Programme with Mr Lionel Lye, Ms Ang Siew Ching, Mr Xie Zhi Zhong and our tour guide cum teacher, Ms Elaine Low.
Once we stepped out onto UK ground after a 14 hour long flight (transiting in Dubai, so yes, we’ve unofficially been to Dubai too!) we were greeted by the 14˚C temperature and refreshing winds. The first few days went past like a blur, including a range of activities from a walking tour of the city of Manchester to many museum visits. Personally, the most interesting visit was the trip to the People’s History Museum, where a dramatized story about suffragette Hannah Mitchell, a historical figure famed for fighting for suffrage, was presented to us. Along with other important women, she struggled to get women the right to vote and was an outstanding northern socialist, feminist and had a cultural as well as political vision. I was really drawn into the storytelling and the costume really packs a punch. She engaged us by asking us to hold up banners and yell “Votes for Women!”, and at that point, I really felt like I was being transported back to the 1930s and felt the same sadness and pain when women were dragged out of the meetings because of their campaigns and imprisoned for their freedom of speech.
An actress playing the role of Hannah Mitchell in the retelling of her story as a suffragette
On the 3rd and 4th night, we stayed in a slightly more uncomfortable hotel, with no air-conditioning. You might be thinking, “Hey you morons, why not open the window, its cold enough outside.” But we lived in fear thinking that if we do open the windows, some insect would fly into our rooms and jeopardize our good night’s rest. Meanwhile, a big black spider was terrorizing another room till 1am but still remained uncaught. Despite this “new” experience, however, there was also a beautiful area of greenery just behind our hotel room that more than made up for it. The sunset there was amazing and would douse the area with hues of pink and orange and make everyone glow a nice golden colour. The white and yellow flowers dotted the grass and it was really a sight to behold. For these 2 nights, we were dressed in comfortable attire, donning slippers and a cup of hot tea or coffee, and we gathered at the field listening to presentations about Oxford and Cambridge traditions and top British contributions to the world.
The really beautiful field behind our hotel
We also visited Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Are you looking to study in the UK? Need more information on how to apply or how life is like? Look forward to our future posts about education in the UK and some colleges we’ve visited there!
Taking the Underground, aka the tube was another exciting adventure. For most of us, it was our first time taking the Underground. (Two words: exorbitant prices.) A trip down a few stops of the Victoria and the Northern line would cost a whopping £2.15 (almost S$5). We used approximately £20 travelling to and fro from Brixton to around Covent Garden for 3 days. But, the trains are usually empty and it isn’t hard to find a seat as trains come every 2 minutes. It came as a shock to us when we were told that train drivers are earning more than teachers in the UK. Could the high transport cost be due to the high cost of labour? Highly so.
Moving on from that however, the theatre scene there is spectacular as well, and we were lucky to indulge in many theatrical productions while we were there! It was just yet another one of our unforgettable experiences here. (More to come in future posts, along with a run-down of the musical we watched, Matilda, and the spectacular play, The Play That Goes Wrong.)
All in all, it was an exciting and wonderful trip, with daily half an hour briefings in the morning and many walking tours, amazing scenery, cool weather, laughter in the hotel, spotting of actual black and white cows (and sheep) etc. Look forward to our future posts on this fun-filled adventure!