Naomi is currently studying abroad for a semester at Queen Mary University of London, from Gonzaga University in the US and recently spent a weekend with a British host family to learn more about local life.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Essex, England to spend the weekend with a British family through the HOST program. This program connects international students studying in the U.K. with British families for a weekend of cultural exchange and immersion. I really enjoyed my time in Essex! When I went on my HOST visit, I had only been in the U.K. for a few weeks, and thus had not really had a chance to explore England and the U.K. outside of London. My HOST visit gave me the opportunity to see more of the country, and also to simply have a fun and relaxing weekend!
For my HOST visit, I was invited to Chelmsford, Essex to stay with Mr. and Mrs. David and Liz Hudson. I traveled from London on Friday morning and spent the weekend at Mr. and Mrs. Hudson’s home. During this weekend visit, the Hudsons showed me so much of the local area—the countryside as well as traditional villages, and welcomed me into their home to share British culture and life. During my first day to Essex, the Hudsons took me to the Maldon coast, where I had the chance to see some Thames barges – sailing barges that were once very common on the River Thames in London. I’m originally from landlocked Salt Lake City, UT, in the U.S., so the opportunity to see the British coast was something I relished! Additionally, I enjoyed getting to learn more about the history of Britain through this visit to Maldon – there were historical sites and things to read regarding both relatively recent and very old history.
After walking around Maldon and exploring the coast for a few hours, we drove to a nearby canal and walked along the canal. This canal went through some incredibly beautiful countryside, and it was hard to imagine that I was less than an hour away from London! The next day, the Hudsons took me to some historical villages in Essex. We visited Thaxted and Finchingfield. Some of the houses in these villages date back to the Tudor period and earlier – something that is completely foreign to me, coming from the U.S! We had a nice lunch in a local cafe before exploring the historic villages more. Visiting these villages and learning
more about their history was definitely the highlight of my trip to Essex.
In addition to all of the exploring of the countryside and historical villages we did during my weekend in Essex, this HOST visit provided me with the opportunity to experience a different type of British life and culture than I would get at Queen Mary. The Hudsons graciously welcomed me into their home. I had the opportunity to try British food I had never tried before, attend church with the Hudsons, and get to know them as well. I am incredibly grateful for the Hudsons’ hospitality and really enjoyed my weekend in Essex. I would highly encourage any exchange student studying at Queen Mary to explore the HOST program.