Here at Holiday Lettings, we believe that travel is an enriching experience. That’s why we decided to award a scholarship for students wanting to study abroad.
The task? Write an article telling us why you’ve chosen to study in a particular place. It might sound simple, but we were looking for something special.
The entries we received spanned the globe and were brimming with energy and enthusiasm. But the one you’re about to read really grabbed our attention. It’s all about the golden state of California in the USA.
Many congratulations to Esther Kinn of the University of Manchester, winner of the 2018 Holiday Lettings Study Abroad Scholarship and £500 towards her studies!
Here’s her wonderful winning article. Take a look and see if you’re tempted to book a stay in California…
These days, the world feels at once bigger and smaller.
Never, at any time in history, has it been easier to reach faraway lands or to experience new cultures and the possibilities. You can jump on a plane in Manchester and, within 12 hours, be in the rainforests of Brazil or on the frozen ice of Greenland. The possibilities for both education and adventure seem endless.
Yet it is unlikely that you will not already be familiar with these sites. Thanks to the wonders of photography, mass popular culture (especially movies) and the internet, your first glimpse of most the world will have been through screens, watching somebody else’s story. This is not a bad thing by any means – but in a world where (thanks to smartphones) we live in each other’s pockets it often feels as if there is nothing left for us to discover that hasn’t already been discovered. The world becomes very small and crowded.
America, and California specifically, is responsible for a lot of that. It’s the home of Apple, Facebook and Google, and a thousand other tech companies that govern our communication and interactions with each other. And, of course, there is Hollywood: the first place most of us go to for stories not just about the world, but about ourselves. America, more than any country, produces our global imaginings and California, more than any state, is the site of those productions.
But, of course, the world (with the sad exception of the icecaps) isn’t actually shrinking: it’s as varied as it always has been and so do the people within it. Anthropology (what I study) is often described as ‘making the familiar strange and the strange familiar’. We often find that the most unexpected and strange people and practices are found in people and places that we assumed to be more or less the same as ourselves
That is why I’m excited to study in Santa Cruz. It’s not a big city like San Francisco but a small beach town that I know next to nothing about. I am coming in with little to no expectations and I’m excited to discover the inevitable differences between the two countries as well as the unexpected similarities.
It sometimes feels as if Britain and America are two sides of the same coin: we share a language and our countries are linked historically and culturally. Most Brits will have watched countless shows and movies set in American cities and will know as much about the more famous spots as they do about their hometowns.
But that’s only a small part of America. The majority of America isn’t on TV or advertised in travel guides: it’s small towns that not many people know the name of and long stretches of empty road between them. I’m excited to discover this America, and the people in it: to see a side of the country that I don’t even know exists yet and, hopefully, enjoy the sun while I’m at it.
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