“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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