When Easter Holiday Rolls Around…

26 Apr

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! This week Ethan discusses a few vacation spots he recommends while visiting northern England!


When Easter Holiday Rolls Around…

I’m going to take a short break from commenting on coursework and internships, to discuss three trips that I recommend to anyone visiting northern England. At Northumbria University, Easter holiday is three weeks long. I can only assume that after two weeks of reading and writing papers, you may want to get out and about. If you can manage two train rides, a bus ride, a ferry ride, and then all of that again on the way home, then visit Cumbria’s Lake District. The Lake District is one of the National Trust’s most visited parks and constitutes some 885 square miles, includes numerous public paths through private land, and is so expansive that despite the crowds you sometimes believe you’ve got the whole place to yourself. While at the park, hike England’s highest mountain and drop by the homes of the poet William Wordsworth and the children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (the creator of Peter Rabbit and an advocate for the National Trust).

After visiting the Lake District, take a trip to Cragside. Lord William George Armstrong, a nineteenth century inventor and arms manufacturer, built the home in 1863. It was the first home in the world to be powered by hydroelectric energy. The home’s stunning architecture and curious interior design reflect Armstrong’s inventive personality—the landscape does as well. Today, the property is covered in thick woodlands and full of caves, stone bridges, streams, tarns, and picturesque lakes. Most visitors would never guess that Armstrong designed each aspect of the environment. Believe it or not, the property was a treeless moor when Armstrong first encountered it many years ago. Only after 150 years is his dream fully realized. It’s simply breathtaking, and what’s more, it’s managed by the National Trust.

The last spot, interestingly enough, is not even in England. If you’re particularly fond of large cities, northern England may let you down, but the bustling city of Edinburgh, Scotland is a mere hour and half away by train. The railroad hugs the Northumberland coastline and offers some of the best views of the North Sea that you’ll find anywhere. Plan to spend a few days in Edinburgh; you’ll need it, and you won’t regret it. The city thrives on literary tourism. Indeed, the United Nations declared it the world’s first “City of Literature” in 2004. Visitors can drop by the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (marked now by a statue of Sherlock Holmes), hike the 287 steps to the top of the Sir Walter Scott monument, traipse around Robert Louis Stevenson’s neighborhood, and sip espresso in the Elephant House café where J.K. Rowling penned the first lines of Harry Potter. After a day visiting the haunts of your favorite authors, check out Edinburgh’s many free museums. The conjoined National Gallery and the Royal Academy for the arts is a must as well as the Scottish National Museum (their new exhibit on Scottish history does an excellent job exploring Scottish cultural and political identity). For a museum student, Edinburgh is hard to beat.

CragsideEdinburghThe Lake District

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

My Internship at the National Trust

10 Apr

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! This week Ethan discusses his work placement at the National Trust.


 

My Internship at the National Trust

               I suppose I’ve done two work placements this semester. The first at Bede’s World, which received coverage in past posts, and the second at the northeastern offices of the National Trust. The National Trust, founded in 1895, is the British equivalent of the United States’ National Park Service. Like the National Park Service, the Trust preserves historic homes, monuments, gardens, and landscapes. My two work placements have been part of one of my classes, Work Place Project. Similar to the summer internships we complete between our first and second years, Northumbria’s arts, media, and cultural management students complete a work placement in the semester before summer graduation.

            Dr. Susan Ashley and Ms. Jennifer Hinves team-teach Work Place Project. Teaching, however, is minimal. The class only meets three times. During the first two meetings, scheduled for the first two weeks of the semester, Dr. Ashley and Ms. Hinves led discussions over literature on cultural management. We also participated in a question-and-answer session with Nicholas Baumfeild, a senior administrator with the northern offices of Arts Council England. Arts Council England (the English equivalent of America’s National Endowment for the Arts) awards a significant portion of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which, as mentioned in a previous post, is the sum of all lottery ticket purchases in Britain. Furthermore, Dr. Ashley invited two other interested students and myself to an organizational meeting for the National Trust’s £7 million (nearly $10 million) project at Seaton Delaval Hall. The project intends to repair the hall, reimagine the site’s public programming, and engage new audiences. The project is a trial run for a number of ideas the Trust could implement nationally. At the time, I was simply interested in finding out as much about British organizations as possible. Little did I know that in two week’s time, Bede’s World would close, I would scramble, and Dr. Ashley would help me get a placement with the Trust. Before I detail my responsibilities with the Trust, let me say a bit more about the course. Students spend much of the semester, up to eight weeks, completing a work placement. While we work, we are (1) required to study our organization’s management structure and (2) plan a project that will involve our working with management to contribute to our organization’s mission. At the end of the eight week work placement, we will submit a 5,000-word report on all that we observed and contributed. During the final class meeting, each student will deliver a short presentation on their work placement.

            I am excited about working with the Trust. I split my time between working at Seaton Delaval Hall, which sets along the coast near the town of Seaton Sluice, and working from home. At Seaton Delaval Hall, I serve as the volunteer coordinator, a task I share with a classmate who is also doing her work placement with the Trust. We are inputing volunteer data into the Trust’s management software (designed by Blackbaud), helping volunteers begin to use the software, planning ways to recruit new volunteers from varying age and interest brackets, and training volunteers on audience engagement strategies. When I’m not working as a volunteer coordinator, I am helping the Trust’s grant writer and project leaders organize the Trust’s work placement program. Hopefully, the work placement options I am helping to create will be ready for interested students by the time you consider hopping the pond. You’ll have to let me know how it turns out.


 

DSCN8809Ethan Working at Seaton Delaval Hall


 

DSCN8818%20%281%29Seaton Delaval Hall


IMG_2471The view from Ethan’s desk

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

“I would title the blog ‘A Day in the Life,’ but then I’d have to footnote that”

26 Mar

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! This week’s blog post is about Ethan’s coursework and navigating the new school system.


 

“I would title the blog ‘A Day in the Life,’ but then I’d have to footnote that”

When in England, do as the English, or at least spend some time studying English history. One of my classes this semester is entitled, “The British Empire and Its Imperial Rivals.” The course is taught by Dr. Joe Hardwick, who completed his master’s degree at Michigan State and specializes in politics, reform, and religion in the British Empire. My fellow students also have diverse interests, and a few research American Western films, the Black Panther Party, and Lyndon Johnson’s foreign policy. The class meets Monday afternoons, and we spend a couple of hours discussing several primary and secondary sources. Dr. Hardwick organizes the class topically, and we discuss the Empire and race, genocide, gender, religion, the environment, and the list goes on. As an intellectual exercise, we even participated in a debate over whether British imperialism was justifiable. The class is now transitioning into making comparisons between the British Empire and the French, Ottoman, and American empires. Outside of discussion, we are assigned to write two 1,000-word primary source analyses and one 4,000-word research paper comparing the British Empire with one of its rivals. I will likely write my final paper comparing Protestant America’s reactions to Filipino Catholicism in the Spanish-American War to British Anglicans’ reactions to Dutch Calvinist Boers in the Anglo-Boer Wars in South Africa. The idea needs further refinement, but the readings so far have been intriguing.

Most of my difficulties arise out of my attempts to navigate the British grading system. When I turn in an assignment in the States, I’ll either upload the document to D2L or send it via email. At Northumbria, I am required to submit the assignment online through a Turnitin link on Blackboard. For those of you unfamiliar with Turnitin, it’s a popular plagiarism prevention software. After I submit the assignment online, I must hand in a hardcopy to the Student Administration and Support Centre (SASC). SASC serves as a collection and distribution center for all the hardcopies students turn in. The folks at SASC accept students’ assignments and send out the papers to reviewers. Coming from America, it was a bit of shock to discover that many of my assignments were peer-reviewed. Sometimes, your actual professor is joined by a teaching assistant for a review team of two. At other times, your professor reviews your work alongside four of five professors from across England. An assignment is serious business. The review process certainly encourages students to read, and reread, the rubric. Moreover, the review process is likely why British professors assign fewer papers. It usually takes about three weeks for the reviewers to finish grading and return the papers back to SASC. At that pace, weekly assignments would be a bureaucrat’s nightmare. Once the paper is graded, and SASC emails you that you can come and pick your paper up, you still must deal with a different marking system. I received a 61% on my last paper. In America, a 61% is a D and something to worry about. In England, a 61% is considered commendable and similar to an American B. Once you get used to the British grading system, it’s not all that bad. But, I’m still getting used to the system, and I only have a little over two months left.

Squire%27s%20Annex.JPG The above building is Squire’s Annex, where Dr. Hardwick’s class meets.


East%20Campus.JPGThe new law and business school on East Campus. Many of Northumbria’s public lectures are hosted in this complex.


LibraryThe Northumbria Library

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

 

A Question of Cash

14 Mar

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! This week’s blog post is about Bede’s World Museum, where Ethan was planning on completing his internship while abroad in Newcastle.


 

A Question of Cash

 

Two weeks ago, Bede’s World Museum closed its doors for lack of funds, and now, local papers claim it will reopen. I’ve never witnessed anything like it, and in my opinion, the whole affair is uniquely British. The closure is an example of a troublesome trend. As public funding declines, museums like Bede’s World slowly die from financial starvation. On the other hand, the possible reopening of Bede’s World is a rebirth of sorts, as British museum professionals begin to explore funding options in the private sector.

            I’ll begin with the context of the closure. Like many of England’s cultural organizations, Bede’s World receives much of its funding from the national government or the Heritage Lottery Fund (funds collected from the nationwide sale of lottery tickets). National funding is unfortunately on the decline. Worse still, the northeast is extremely underfunded. The most recent national budget allocated £775 million to cultural organizations. Although it seems like a great deal of money, the budget is a 5% reduction over past years, and most of the money (71%) will remain in the Greater London area. Britain’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport and Arts Council England spend a combined £68.99 per Londoner and £4.58 on everyone else. The national distribution of funds are not even proportional to the amount spent on culture. While London’s Westminster residents contribute £14.5 million to the arts, they receive £408 million in return. In contrast, locals of County Durham (the county directly below Northumberland) spend £34 million on culture and reap £12 million in lottery funds. Journalist Ben Myers calls its the “North-South divide” (For more on Myer’s thoughts, read his article in the New Statesman). Bede’s World did not start out on pennies. Nearly twenty years ago, Bede’s World opened an impressive new facility that cost somewhere in the ballpark of £10 million. Yet, the staff seemed to depend on government funding for most of their projects. Government budgets change over twenty years, and Bede’s World did not weather the storm.

            It is surprising then, that Bede’s World may get another chance at life. A local charity known as Groundwork stepped up to save the museum. It is important to note that Groundwork is a private sector organization. You may not be surprised by that fact, and rightly so, we’re Americans. The majority of American museum professionals realized long ago they could not depend on federal funding. Most historic homes, for example, struggle along on donations from local charitable foundations, businesses, visitors, or city councils. You won’t catch the staff of most historic homes busily sending in applications to the National Endowment for the Humanities. The British, in contrast, while used to donating to medical foundations (like we give to the American Cancer Society) are not accustomed to donating to museums. A British museum professional generally applies for government funding first, and then, if funds are still needed, searches out local donors. Yet, the closure of Bede’s World is one of many catalysts forcing the British to rethink their funding strategies. Some are studying American models of fundraising. Indeed, a friend taking Northumbria University’s Philanthropy and Fundraising course tells me she is constantly assigned readings on American models of fundraising. I’m witnessing a shift in the mindset of British museum professionals, from a dependence on the government (represented by faraway London) toward a reliance on the community. For more information, and a look at my sources, check out Nick Clark’s article in the Independent and Matthew Hemley’s article in The Stage.St.%20Paul%27s%20MonasteryBede’s World hosts programs at St. Paul’s Monastery, the same church the Venerable Bede’ worked in some 1,300 years ago.


 

Anglo-Saxon%20VillageBede’s World’s recreated Anglo-Saxon village


 

DocksThe docks along the Tyne River, across from Bede’s World and the working-class town of Jarrow

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

A Bit About Bait

27 Feb

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England!


 

A Bit About Bait

I enjoy trying a new restaurant and thought I would conclude my February posts with short descriptions of a few of my Newcastle favorites. I begin most mornings by walking five minutes to the Caffé Nero on St. Mary’s Place. The staff knows my regular order of black coffee and, occasionally, raspberry porridge. The store boasts a wonderful view of the Church of St. Thomas the Martyr, which lies just across the street (and has an interesting backstory if you care to do a little research). If I’m inclined to take a longer walk, I would likely visit the Riverside Café on 1 Queen Street. The shop reminds me of mom-and-pop stores in the States, and it seemed comically appropriate to hear both Randy Travis and Barry Manilow on the radio during my first visit. For those of you watching your wallets, a good cup of black coffee, no matter where you go, will cost about £1.75. If, however, you’re hard up but need a cup, you can get coffee for £1 at the Lit and Phil.

For lunch, I would recommend the Hippo House on Collingwood Street. You’ll need to use a GPS on your first visit because the store has no distinguishing marks. From all appearances, the store is a camera shop and actually was once—in 1915. The owners discovered this bit of history during a renovation several months ago and decided, for the sake of heritage, to leave the shop with its original facade. The Hippo House serves sandwiches for around £3 and caters primarily to office workers who drop in to pick up their bait, or take-away lunch. I would suggest their Monte Cristo with salad greens on seed bread. Another excellent lunch spot is Wi-Fri, a diner in the Grainger Market, where you can order an enormous plate of fish and chips for a little over £5. If you aren’t too full after your visit to Wi-Fri, walk about fifty feet to Oliver’s and pick up a piece of caramel shortbread to take-away. I promise you won’t regret it.

The dinner options vary. I would suggest the Herb Garden on Westgate Road. The restaurant serves gourmet pizzas, vegetarian dishes, seafood, calzones, and assorted meat platters. You can easily spend £20 here, but, if you order a take-away “lunch” just before 5 pm, you can slide out with a dinner pizza for a cheap £5. Not far from the Herb Garden, beside the Hippo House in fact, is the Coop Chicken House. While it may sound like a terrible name for a supposedly “fine-dining” experience, the Coop serves quality food at a good price. For £10, you can get half of a rotisserie chicken, a bowl of skin-on fries, and a plate of ratatouille or roasted corn. After dinner (because of course you’ll want dessert), visit Di Marco on Grey Street. Hand’s down the best pastry shop in town, it serves any number of hot drinks and cakes. Be prepared, however, good portions of the menu are in Italian. So feel free to point if you don’t know exactly what something is. After all, when it’s at Di Marco, you can’t really go wrong.

Caffé NeroCaffé Nero

The Riverside Café

You can faintly see the glowing “OPEN” sign of the Riverside Café, located in an old section of town, directly under the Tyne Bridge.

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

Tuppence

20 Feb

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England!


 

Tuppence

I’m scared of packing, and decisions about whether to pack four shirts or five can easily keep me up at night. Needless to say, packing for a five-month trip to England consumed a considerable amount of my time. Of all the items that I packed, the most important in my opinion would be money. Most of you will travel to England on a Tier Four General Student Visa. It’s the only visa that allows exchange students to work. Regrettably, the visa will not allow you to earn money while working. The money you have when you arrive in Newcastle is all the money you will have until you return to the States five months later. You’ll want to try new foods, visit faraway places, ride the metro, and buy a few things for friends back home, and the worst thing that could happen is you run out of cash. In this post, I will talk a bit about British currency and how to get the most for your money.

The American dollar looses value in the United Kingdom. Currently, one British pound (£) is equal to $1.45. Two months ago, the conversion rate stood at $1.60 to £1. As the conversion rate will likely change by the time you arrive, watch the going rates on oanda.com (the British government’s preferred exchange rate website). Adapting to the deflated value of the American dollar will take some time. Don’t be sucked into buying things for seemingly low prices. Remember a £25 pair of pants is not $25, its $36. Look for coupons, watch the clearance rack, and wait for the price to go down. Frequent places like TK Maxx (the European branch of America’s TJ Maxx), Poundland (a British version of Dollar General), and Boot’s Pharmacy. English pharmacies are similar to the American pharmacies of thirty or forty years ago. For example, most Geordies will pick up a workday lunch at Boot’s (a sandwich, side, and drink for £3.29). Although it may seem odd to a twenty-something-year-old American, British pharmacies serve excellent food.

Alongside the conversion rate, be aware that the British love coins. In America, we keep pennies, nickels, and dimes for luck and then throw them into fountains or put them in parking meters. We rarely use them. In England, the British spend their pence (what Americans call cents). There are one, two, five, ten, twenty, and fifty pence coins. There are also one and two pound coins. As the British government does not issue any bank notes (what Americans call bills) lower than five pounds, and as most British purchases (especially meals) are lower than five pounds, you’ll find lots of Brits transacting in coins. You also might find it interesting that the singular for pence is penny, the likely origin for calling our one cent piece a penny.

Lastly, the English have all but converted to chipped cards (a supposedly more secure means of transaction). In the States, banks are just beginning to issue chipped credit or debit cards. As such, most Americans still carry around cards with magnetic strips, and you will likely come to England with cards with magnetic strips. Be aware, however, that some British businesses won’t accept a card with only a magnetic strip. As such, its advisable to get a chipped card before you come over. Rest assured, however, if you do have a debit card with only a magnetic strip and want to pull out money from an ATM, Lloyd’s Bank’s ATMs read both chip and magnetic strip (and, as an added bonus, don’t charge processing fees).

DSCN7932.JPG

Top row, from left to right—one, two, five, ten, twenty, and fifty pence. Bottom row, from left to right—one and two pounds. Do you notice any patterns to help you differentiate the coins? And yes, all coins and notes have a picture of the Queen!

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

“A Waak Around Toon”

12 Feb

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England!

“A Waak Around Toon”

Most of us are accustomed to jumping in our cars and going wherever we want to go, and we rarely consider the distances we cover. This semester, I left my keys in America and bought a good pair of boots in England. I’ll admit there are other ways to travel besides walking, but these can be expensive (in the case of multiple metro tickets) or unpredictable (such as riding with a friend). Without exception, the cheapest and most liberating form of travel is walking. On foot, most people will be limited to visiting places within a two- or three-mile radius. In my case, this radius restricts me to Newcastle proper. So where should you or I visit? There are a number of places to go in Newcastle, but I’ll highlight three of my favorites.

The Great North Museum, also known as the Hancock Museum, provides a useful introduction to the city. For example, before coming to England, I did not know what a magpie was. The magpie serves as the mascot for Newcastle United, the city’s popular football (or soccer) team. A magpie is a fairly large black and white bird, and Newcastle United’s striped uniforms likely mimic the bird’s plumage. All of this dawned on me during a walk through the Hancock’s wildlife exhibits. The museum’s other exhibits, especially those on Hadrian’s Wall, will let visitors in on other important facts that are considered common knowledge in Northumberland. Furthermore, the Hancock is free to the public and a short five-minute walk from Northumbria University’s campus.

DSCN7929 (The Hancock Museum)

Once you begin to settle into life in Newcastle, you may find yourself frequenting the city’s Literary and Philosophical Society, commonly known as the Lit and Phil. The society formed in 1793 as a “conversation club,” and its current members certainly fulfill their predecessors’ intent. People gather every morning to drink coffee and tea and discuss the news, a book, politics, science, math, or a recent trip. Be careful, however; if you get too close to a conversation, you’ll get roped in. Everyone is extremely friendly. The Lit and Phil also organizes (mostly free) concerts and lectures fairly regularly. I’ve attended two lectures in the past few weeks, the first on French literature in World War I and the second on problems within higher education. Student membership is an affordable £40. Members can borrow up to six books at a time (many books are over 150 years old) and access the society’s wi-fi. Moreover, members get to study, read, and chat in a magnificent library built in 1825. Don’t be surprised if it’s love at first sight.

IMG_1715IMG_1719 (Lit and Phil)

Geordies are extremely laid back, and weekend afternoons are reserved for relaxation. There is no better place to relax or take a stroll than Leazes Park. Opened in 1873 and improved shortly after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1893, it retains much of its turn of the century charm, complete with a terrace, statues, and colorful bandstand. In the summers, the dock opens and locals can rent boats to row around the park’s lake. There are flower gardens, tennis courts, open fields, a number of paved trails, and (believe it or not) grazing land for locals’ farm animals!

IMG_1788(Leazes Park)

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student

 

 

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