From Big Ben and black cabs to David Beckham and Marmite, a class of Normandy high school students were asked why they wanted to visit the UK - and some reasons may surprise you...
In such uncertain and changeable times, it is important to cross borders, embrace other cultures and keep an open mind. Martine Quesnel is one such person doing just that. An English teacher at a high school in Normandy, France, she recently held a writing contest in which her 15-year-old students were asked to write 150 words in English about why they would like to visit Britain and what there is to see and do here. Martine approached Discover Britain with the contest and we proudly agreed to publish a selection of the winning excerpts.
Besides a wonderful grasp of a second language, what emerged was a portrait of a nation quite unlike anything we might have drawn ourselves. While it was perhaps unsurprising to read a French perspective on our historic landmarks, changeable climate and odd culinary tastes, many unexpected details appeared too. Who knew, for example, that our festivals were so highly regarded, that David Beckham is regarded on a par with Her Majesty The Queen, or that we are thought of as a nation of worry-free people?
Below is a selection of our favourite responses:
Hey! You want to spend an enriching, unforgettable, wonderful holiday? Go to the UK! Composed of four awesome countries, all different with their own culture.
[England is] famous for its numerous monuments that are breathtaking, its pubs for the festive joyful atmosphere, and its gastronomy. So if you want to relax contentedly England is the right destination! Black taxis in London can take you to the Palace of Westminster to admire Big Ben, drive you to Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral. In the evening you can go to a pub and eat “the soup of the day” with a pint of beer.
You can ask anybody if they know England they will obviously answer, “Yes, I do”. But will it be true? Do they know everything about this country? In this old but modern country, a lot of activities can be done. What about London? You could visit Tower Bridge, the British Museum or the Tower of London. Too old? Maybe you will prefer riding the giant wheel? Too high? Why don’t you stay on the ground so and walk through the numerous streets of the city? There are lots of must-go places like Mme Tussauds or Buckingham Palace.
In Edinburgh every summer you’ll find a very popular festival. There are more than 2,000 shows! It takes place each August. After that you may be tired, that is why you can go and taste famous British dishes. In the morning you should not miss the breakfast with bacon and eggs. For lunch you can taste the famous fish and chips, and in the afternoon the most popular drink, a “cup of tea with scones”. If you go to England you’ll see that English people never feel nervous!
If you go to London in August, if I were you, I’d take part in the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s the biggest carnival in Europe. There you can meet international artists and costume bands. You can also taste food from different countries such as the West Indies and India. How beautiful landscapes! You will not be disappointed.
Even if England doesn’t suit you, you can have a wonderful holiday in Ireland or Scotland. These are two amazing cultural countries with beautiful landscapes. If you choose Scotland you’ll have to taste haggis, a traditional dish, which is pretty “strange” but… you should taste it. If you are lucky you’ll attend the Highland Games consisting of several activities like the “tug of war” or something where you need strength to throw a log as far as you can – “the caber toss”. You could also visit Ireland where you can have a stop and go in a pub to listen to Celtic music while drinking a Guinness, the famous Irish beer. According to me, it’s the best thing ever!
Do you want more clothes? Come to England you can buy lots of clothes and objects in one of the most remarkable streets of London, the great Oxford Street. Why not visit London Eye, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace built in 1703, or if you prefer history, the Queen’s Palace? The English are very cool, if you want to speak about your life-stories… And enjoy the British weather: a changeable climate, cold in winter but cool in summer!
For your trip I advise you to visit Cardiff. When I went there for the first time I was surprised. This city is wonderful and the youngest I’ve ever seen. I said to myself “This is the place to be for parties but also for sport with the Millennium Stadium, or for history!” You can visit the Castle of Cardiff, a very old one and the National Museum of History for your general knowledge! And if you get bored in Cardiff (I doubt it) you can go to London, the capital of fashion, of style, of happiness! If you don’t like London I don’t know what I could do to make you change your mind… People are so lovely in London. Nothing worries them.
Personally speaking, I have never been to Scotland but I dream of going there. This country is full of beautiful landscapes or waterfalls. The Scottish have many traditions like playing bagpipes or wearing a kilt. They also believe in many legends such as the Loch Ness monster or haunted castles! Moreover, it’s the paradise for golf players with the famous golf course of St Andrews! Have you ever thought of tasting some haggis? It’s a Scottish specialty, as well as whisky!
Famous people live in the UK, including the Queen, Elizabeth II, who lives in London, but also David Beckham, an international football player. Indeed, the UK is also known as a country of sport. You can find museums of football like the National Football Museum in the north west of England in Manchester. It is the biggest and best museum dedicated to football. Well, if you like sports, go and visit it.
Regarding [Britain’s] inhabitants, they are very polite and welcome foreigners very well. It is very interesting to talk with British people because we can learn about their culture and traditions like Tea Time, St Patrick’s Day, or Guy Fawkes Night. There are many pleasant things to see ever though the weather is very changeable. Indeed in the morning it can be sunny, and in the evening rainy!