Student Exchange England
Great Britain's influence
on the histories, cultures, and imaginations of peoples around the world
is colossal—far greater than might reasonably be expected from the purview
of its narrow island home, its relatively small population.
From Camelot to Runnymede, Jack and Jill to Margaret Thatcher, bagpipes
to the Beatles, and the Golden Hind to the Concorde, British
heritage and achievements permeate the lives and thoughts of people
across the globe, especially in English-speaking nations. Its landscapes,
towns, and urban scenes are immortalized in nursery rhyme, painting,
fiction, poetry, motion picture, and television; its laws and institutions
have served as a model for scores of countries; its language is the
closest candidate to an international tongue on the planet today; the
inventions of its laboratories and workshops sustain our daily routines.
Formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
(popularly shortened to "the UK"), the nation was formed in 1707 by
a political union of the much older kingdoms of Scotland and England.
A third partner in this union is Wales, a principality that shares the
English government but is largely self-administered and has its own
distinct culture and identity. Northern Ireland (also called Ulster)
comprises another integral part.
Students go to Britain for a variety of reasons. Most of them visit
London for its marvelous historical and cultural offerings—theater,
museums, galleries, dance, symphonies, shopping, pub life, and the pomp
of Whitehall and Buckingham Palace.
Yet the capital does not have a monopoly on culture. Fortunate are students
with time enough to enjoy the architecture of Edinburgh, explore the
castle at Cardiff, attend a play at Stratford-upon-Avon, browse through
Cambridge bookshops, enjoy a traditional May Day celebration in Oxford,
and take in the rich history and atmosphere of smaller cities such as
York, Bath, Criccieth, and Winchester. For many, the best lies even
further afield in the exquisite British countryside and villages: churchyards,
castles, gardens, stately homes, rural pubs, and the lovely scenery
of the Scottish Highlands, the Welsh mountains, the Yorkshire Dales,
the Cornish coast, and the Lake District.