Memories of York

This page: Red devil, Stonegate, York. Opposite: Viking entertainment; Clifford’s Tower built in the 1300’s, in a defensive position on a hilltop overlooking the city; Shopping in The Shambles

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’ve been back in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China, my hometown, for a while now. I missed Nanchang with a passion while I was in York, but now that I’m home, I realize how living and studying in York was one of the most precious, unforgettable and rewarding experiences of my life. I arrived at Manchester Airport on a rainy day in July. It was so cold. Sitting in the coach heading for my college, excited and a little bit anxious, I tried to imagine

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Yang Guo has fond memories from her four-week long English language course in York, England

the days to come in this strange country. Would I be able to adapt to life here? Will I keep up with the class? Two hours later we arrived at our destination. The rows of houses in which we were to spend the next four weeks looked like villas. Five students shared a flat, and there were several flats in one house. Our group was separated into different houses, mixed in with students from other countries. This was going to be a challenge for us; to get used to living with unfamiliar people. I dropped my heavy luggage immediately and rushed out to look for my friends in the different houses. Our tutors explained later that we had been deliberately assigned to separate houses to help us learn to be independent . ”Everyone should have his or her own private space, once you’ve got used to that, you’ll find it’s really enjoyable” And it was, I discovered.

That afternoon, we visited York Minster. The Minster is a Gothicstyle church that has offered a place for worship for nearly 1000 years. It has one of the largest areas of medieval stained glass in the world; its measurements similar to those of a tennis court. Inside, we were impressed by the grandeur, holiness and solemn atmosphere of the building. Our classes started on the third day, after a trip to the picturesque seaside town of Whitby. The building in which our classes were held was fifteen minute’s walk from our accommodation and was over 500 years old. We were told that if the College wanted to put a nail in a wall to hang a picture, they should apply to the government for permission. Our study schedule was well planned and rather busy. We had classes Monday to Friday, 9:15am – 3:30pm. Classroom activities

YORK – a city for everyone
For a small city York has a great deal to offer, says Andrew Hjort, Principal of Melton College in York
Why study in York? Well, for a small city, York has a great deal to offer! York is the historic capital of the north of England. Yorkshire people are famous for their openness and friendliness. Whether you are coming for a short language course or studying for a postgraduate degree, York is a student-friendly city. People have been coming to York for over 2000 years! Our first overseas visitors, the Romans came to control an empire. Nowadays students are drawn to York by less warlike attractions! York’s history can be read like a book covering every significant period in the history of England. Roman emperors lived (and died) here. The Vikings made York a major trading city.The Normans built the City’s castle and our first great cathedral. Medieval Kings based their court in York and the fame of the City was ensured by the construction of York Minster. In the seventeenth century the Royalists defended the city from the forces of Oliver Cromwell. Later, York was associated with the rise of rail transport in the Industrial Revolution. And what of York today? Certainly the history is a great attraction. York Minster, the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe dominates the City. The medieval walls surround the busy heart of York and provide a wonderful means of seeing the City. World famous museums cater for all tastes. Tourists can time travel at the Jorvik Centre through the crowded streets of Viking York. In the Castle Museum they can stroll down the elegant Victorian street scene of Kirkgate. At the National Railway Museum the technologically minded can marvel at the power of the world’s fastest steam train whilst those more interested in history can see the carriages which carried Queen Victoria to her summer holidays!

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“British people really enjoy their lives, and are not just focused on making a living...”
were mainly student-centered and included: discussions, jigsaw reading, information gaps, and project work. These methods were very different from the methods we use in China. One experience that sticks in my mind was a research project on a traditional local food called ‘Yorkshire Curd Tart’! We had to find out its ingredients, how to make it, and its history. It was an interesting but embarrassing experience! We had to stop strangers in the street and ask them politely whether they could be of some help. Fortunately, most people were very patient and warm-hearted. The one thing that we couldn’t really get used to was British food. Fish and Chips is delicious, but you can’t eat that every day. Chocolate and cakes are too sweet and high in calories. We really missed our delicious traditional Chinese food! »

York’s railway heritage means that the City has an excellent rail service to London with regular trains taking only 2 hours to reach the capital. The City also has direct connections to Manchester Airport, the largest airport in the North with excellent services to many destinations including all the important European gateways. For visitors who choose to stay in the City there is a huge range of hotels and guesthouses to suit all tastes and budgets. Many students choose to stay with local families and experience at first hand the famous Yorkshire welcome! But York is more than history. The readers of “The Daily Telegraph” voted York the best destination for a short holiday and it is this variety of attractions that make York unique. Many of our visitors are here for the shops. The car-free centre is ideal for a morning’s window shopping and, if your feet start to ache, the city has a wide selections of cafes and tea rooms. The compact city centre means that everything is within easy reach and the narrow streets add to the lively atmosphere. The evening attracts younger visitors to the bars and nightclubs. The City also tempts visitors with excellent restaurants, theatres and cinemas. Regularly, throughout the year, the City runs a variety of festivals. The Early Music festival in the summer offers visitors the chance to enjoy world-class performances in a variety of beautiful and atmospheric settings. The Festival of Food and Drink in the early autumn draws famous chefs and food writers to the City for a feast of special events, cookery demonstrations and wine tastings. With so much to do it is no wonder that York is a popular destination with students from all over the world. Whether they are studying for a degree at York’s top rated university or preparing for an exam at one of the City’s accredited language schools, York provides an ideal environment.

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“...one minute it was raining and we needed a coat to keep warm, next the sun struggled out from behind the clouds and it was unbearably hot...”
Britain is really a country of art and culture and people have combined culture with their daily life. Walking along the river, we heard violin music. Historical buildings were decorated with classical statues and gardens were full of beautiful flowers. We felt that British people really enjoy their lives, and are not just focused on making a living. Before we went to Britain, we were told that the weather is weird and that we might experience all four seasons in one day. This was exactly right; one minute it was raining and we needed a coat to keep warm, the next minute the
Above: York city walls, built by the Romans and used to quarantine the city against the Black Death in the middle-ages, have been defending York for two thousand years. Below: Signs in front of York Minster, York

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sun struggled out from behind the clouds and it was unbearably hot. I felt I like I was never wearing suitable clothes! I noticed that people didn’t use their umbrellas when it was sunny. For them, perhaps, sunshine was too precious! British people love and protect animals to an extent that most Chinese people may find unbelievable unless they see it with their own eyes. A group of wild ducks lived near our accommodation and whenever they wandered onto the road, drivers, even if they were in a rush, would all stop and wait patiently, making sure that all the ducks had passed safely before restarting their engines. Britain has very strict laws on the sale of alcohol. Pub owners and storekeepers are absolutely forbidden to sell alcohol to under 18’s. One night, when I asked a barman for a glass of shandy he said seriously, “I know it may annoy you, but I still want to make sure that you are over 18. It’s my duty to ask.” I had to show him my passport to prove that I was an adult. The month flew by and words are hardly able to express my complicated feelings about living in York, but there are aspects of my stay that will live in my memory forever. gs

Yang Guo studied MA English Language Teaching Programme at York St John University College

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