I feel the need to explain the reasoning behind my post title. This post will cover two different topics. This first topic will outline my observations of the differences between English and American culture, while the second topic will concern my time in Iona.
Before this May Term trip my impressions of British culture came from entertainment such as Harry Potter and Monty Python. I also listened to some British bands but did not know much of the culture from which they originated. After spending about two weeks here I have observed several things of British culture that I did not know beforehand. First is that brick and stone are the building materials of choice. This differs from the wood and metal siding used in Iowa. The roads in the UK are also much curvier than in the States. While the difference in roads may cause some motion sickness for some while traveling, the positive offset is the large amount of public transportation that is available. Not having a car while at Wartburg I can personally say I wish the amount of public transportation in Iowa was as developed as in the UK. Finally, the amount of history in the UK is ten times that in the States. I was talking to a local in Helmsley and he said he laughed when he visited the States and a building from 1932 was considered historical because he worked in a building that was over 400 years old. In York there is a part of the city called Shambles Market where there are buildings that date back to Medieval times. We have also had days were we have visited three or four different historical sites and drove by even more historical sites that we could have visited but do not have time to do so. Through visiting these historical sites and interacting with locals in the pubs, on the streets, and in the hostels my knowledge of British culture and history has been greatly expanded.
Here is the point where I switch gears from culture differences to visiting Iona.
When our crew first arrived in Iona we had a short lunch break and afterwards it started down pouring. Not to be deterred by the rain we continued on and visited the abbey on the island. St. Columba’s shrine is located in the abbey and was a popular destination for pilgrims in medieval times. Next we visited the nunnery on Iona which is the first nunnery we visited on our trip. Afterwards we walked to the hostel, which was located on a sheep farm, and spent the evening playing cards and a game of spoons. What differentiated the Iona hostel from other hostels we have been to be that the hostel was not part of a chain and there were other visitors working there that we got to meet. There was a German man who had been working at the hostel for a month and was traveling around Europe working were he could. There was also an Irish man who started working at the hostel the same day that we arrived there. He recommended different hiking trails around the island so on our afternoon off I tried some of them out. Dune I is the highest point on the island and offered a wonderful view. I then traversed to St. Columba’s Bay which was on the opposite side of the island from the hostel. The hike offered a good view of the ocean and the sheep that dot the Iona landscape. After hiking there was more relaxing at our hostel, playing cards, and the general shenanigans of our group of students.