Being a Tourist in Your City

One of the major appeals of studying abroad in Europe is, of course, that you can very easily travel the continent and see all of those places you’ve seen in every movie involving travel: the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the remains of the Berlin Wall.

But, as a dear friend advised me before I left, it’s equally as important to explore your own city and see what’s beyond your campus — to give yourself a reason to call it home. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this week.

However, I did start my exploring on campus by visiting the Manchester Museum. I was expecting a modest-sized museum, such as the ones we have at MU, but was pleasantly surprised at its selection. I’m a huge fan of ancient Egypt (always have been — I read tons of books about them when I was younger. The Egyptian exhibit is also the only part of the Met I’ve seen because I found it to be so interesting), so I got really excited about their decent Egyptian collection. They even had two complete mummies in sarcophagi! (That picture didn’t turn out, though.)

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I also loved the herpetology exhibit — the small poison dart frogs are my favorite. (I’d always gravitate toward those while we were on break during STT at the Fernbank Science Center. For those of you who didn’t know me in high school, I used to do a lot with science.) Other than that, the museum had a lot of great exhibits on natural history (and even a T-rex, though not one as large as the Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s). Below is an ancestor of an elephant, I think.

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I spent Sunday in Manchester’s Chinatown, where a large Chinese New Year celebration was taking place. There were tons of street vendors and live dance, music and acrobatic performances, and the night ended with fireworks. I’ve never been to a Chinese New Year celebration before, and I thought this one was really cool.

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Because my friend Katey and I don’t have class on Wednesdays, we’ve decided to have “Worldly Wednesdays” where we explore different places in the city. On a friend’s recommendation, we went to the Manchester Art Gallery, which is housed in this beautiful old building. (See below for the lobby shot.) They had a bunch of different exhibits, mainly 18th- and 19th-century work, and it was all really cool. (But there was that random work by Banksy, which I didn’t quite understand.)

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Then, we visited the John Rylands Library, which is housed on the University of Manchester’s downtown campus.It was absolutely gorgeous — and, yeah, it did kind of look like something out of the “Harry Potter” series. The best part is that it still functions as a library, so basically I know where I’m studying for the rest of the semester.

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It also doubled as a sort of literary museum, which was really cool. They had a lot of exhibits with excerpts from 11th-century books on display, and there were a ton of old printing presses around, like this one:

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We then went to find St. Mary’s Church, also referred to as “The Hidden Gem,” which certainly earned its nickname — it took us seven minutes to find it, even though it was a minute away from the library. It’s about as old as the U.S. and has absolutely beautiful sculptures all around. Out of respect for those praying in there, we didn’t take pictures, but below is an image of the outside.

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Exploring that section of the city brought reminders of actual home, too, many in the form of an Abraham Lincoln statue. (We, as Americans, obviously took pictures, such as the one below.)

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Being a tourist in Manchester has made me realize how little “touristing” I’ve done in other homes — Columbia, Orange County and even Atlanta. It’s something I definitely want to do more of when I get back to the U.S., and I’ll start by exploring Kansas City this summer.

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