There are quite a few thing that I really enjoy about living in this part of the world.  Sure, there are a number of things that I miss from back in Kansas, but there are also quite a few things that we’re enjoying in this region of England that Kansas just can’t readily offer.

  1. Fresh Seafood

Being about 800 miles from the nearest body of saltwater, Kansas can’t compete with a place where nearly every town has a fresh fish market.  Fish and chips are fun from time to time but many varieties of fresh fish are typically much higher quality than what I’m normally used to.

  1. Indian curries

There are a couple of places back in Wichita where I can find a decent curry, but in England carryout Indian food is easier to find than a MacDonald’s.

  1. Yogurt/Yoghurts

Full cream or whole milk based yogurts/yoghurts appear to be the norm here versus being the exception.  American yogurts are more often than not low on fat but high in sweeteners.  Personally I’m preferring the tasty higher fat/lower levels of sweetener!!

  1. Public transportation

Even in a small city it’s rare to have to stand more than 5 minutes at a bus stop before a bus comes in for passengers.  A multiplicity of routes is also very helpful.  Passenger trains are much more common as well.  Now, I know that part of this could be influenced by the fact motorist pay closer to $6 per gallon, but it’s still nice to have the option of public transport for one reason or another.  Anyone over the age of 60 is provided the opportunity to travel for free on most buses and trains throughout the UK. I don’t quite qualify for that perk just yet, but I do have a student card which allows me free travel on a limited number of routes.  Durham University staff/student card holders (such as myself) are allowed to ride certain routes for free.

  1. Cars

There are a myriad of cars available here that you can’t find anywhere/readily in the US.  The most popular are much more compact and fuel efficient for obvious reasons.  About half of all cars here are diesel and are able to obtain fuel efficiency ratings over 50 miles per gallon.

  1. Scenery

Sorry Kansas…No matter how much I love wide open spaces and the prairies, I have to admit that most places over here are ridiculously scenic and would make the gentle rolling hills of various parts in Kansas seem fairly flat compared to the perpetually green hills of England.  It’s also hard to compete with beautiful sandy or pebble beaches overlooked by picturesque cliffs or dunes.  It also helps nearly every beautiful place exists within a unique historical context that stretches back long before Europeans landed on the shores of the present day USA.

  1. Great places to walk

I’ve definitely been walking a whole lot more here than I usually do back in Kansas.  Ample public footpaths (sidewalks) and enjoyable scenery are conducive to walks as well.  Americans often drive a half mile to go to the grocery store or elsewhere.  Even people in their 70s and 80s wouldn’t dream of driving a short distance like that on this side of the pond.

School visits and classes update

On a side note, my “post-graduate” classes at Durham University are close to wrapping up.  I’m looking forward to moving beyond presentations and papers into spending more time in local schools.  The last several weeks have seen me in school only twice a week on average.

Student teachers are just beginning to teach in several regional schools.  I hope to spend the next 2 weeks popping in on their lessons with a teacher trainer from Durham University who provides support and feedback to these new teachers.  Hopefully I will be able to also gain a broader picture of what best teaching practices look like in science classrooms throughout the Northeast of England.