Megan Flannery — Instead of a spring break in March and a long Easter weekend in April, my university in Britain has combined them to provide students with a two week-long Easter break. While most international exchange students are traveling across Europe and most British students are either working on their dissertations or visiting home, I’m further exploring the UK. My first stop? Chester.

Despite being a fairly small city, which even one of my local friends had never heard of, I was somewhat familiar with Chester prior to visiting. The University of Chester was one of the other exchange programs I applied for, so I had researched it when I initially applied to study in England. Since it’s only about an hour from Preston by train, my friend and I planned on taking a casual day trip, without stressing over any timetables or logistics too much and headed off to Chester.

Upon first arriving, our number one order of business was to see the Chester Cathedral, which had been recommended to us by multiple people. Now, after spending a decent amount of time in Britain, all of the cathedrals sort of start to blend together. Are they impressive? Absolutely. But are they more impressive than the previous twelve cathedrals you’ve seen? Probably not. That being said, Chester Cathedral was definitely worth the trip. It wasn’t only beautiful but also had a lot of history to it that made it interesting. 

After the cathedral, we walked down by the river to see the remains of the Roman wall that was built around the city. All along the wall are plaques which are horribly outdated but humorous. One of them says that it’s still legal to kill a Welshman at night from atop the wall. Once we walked the wall, we stopped at a tourist map of the city to see where else we should head and realized we had walked the entire city in less than three hours, including the time we took to explore the cathedral and eat lunch. 

With nowhere else to go, we wandered through the town and stopped at different shops until we came across Central Perk — yes, that Central Perk. Though it wasn’t a perfect replica of the famous “Friends” TV show set, there were TVs playing old episodes and a very American atmosphere. We quickly made friends with the barista when she recognized our accents and picked our brains for impressions of England versus the US. While stumbling across the Central Perk coffee shop was completely unplanned, it’s always fun to see how the English perceive Americans. 

I found Chester to be the perfect destination for a simple and relaxing day trip, but as we walked around the city I tried to imagine what it would’ve been like if I had been placed to study there instead of in Preston. To my surprise, I found it really difficult, even though during my application process, Chester was my first choice. It just goes to show that even if you wind up studying abroad someplace you’ve never even heard of, you can learn to love it.