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My journey was downwards….very, very fast downwards! It started with a trip to a Lancaster airfield, continued with me getting kitted out like an astronaut and buckled to Billy, my instructor, then the seemingly suicidal edging on his bum towards the open door of a plane at 14,500 feet with me on top of him....
What happened next? I can’t remember everything, even now after 5 years. You never retrieve those lost moments, your senses are so overloaded that only a bit of what you are experiencing enters your consciousness. What I can still recall after all this time is the vast emptiness I was entering, and a sensation unlike any other of being catapulted back towards the starting-point of my journey. A strange pressure, again unfamiliar, on my temples and the sudden absence of any weight on my back led me to question whether Billy was still there.
50 seconds they told me the falling would last, yet it seemed like hours! I had almost forgotten about the parachute…the one thing that would save us from an uninterrupted plummet to earth and it had slipped my mind! Surprise then, when I was dragged upwards and the ground’s approach shuddered to something like a halt. Gentle undulations as we imitated a feather and made our leisurely way down to earth, then the euphoria over throwing yourself out of a plane and living to tell the tale. A great vertical journey!
Tony Rawlinson LILA*
Top 10 things to see and do in Oxford
1. Learn to punt under Magdalen Bridge
2. Take a tour of Christ Church College
3. Walk around Radcliffe Camera
4. Climb St Marys Church Tower
5. See the shrunken heads at The Pitt Rivers Museum
6. Visit the famous Ashmolean museum
7. See ashow at the Sheldonian Theatre
8. Visit Oxford Castle Unlocked and the New Quarter
9. Take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens
10. Visit the beautiful Blenheim Palace
Top 10 things to see and do in Brighton
1. Visit Brighton Pier
2. Try paintballing at 1066 Paintballing
3. Visit Herstmonceux Castle (above)
4. Try paragliding with Fly Sussex Paragliding
5. Take in the view at Beachy Head
6. Go shopping in North Laine
7. Visit Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
8. See some live comedy at Komedia
9. Sample the nightlife at Oceana
10. Have lunch on the beach at Due South
We asked our schools why this part of the south coast is such a great destination for English language students.
Sarah Tew at BEET Language Centre
Bournemouth has now three times been voted England's best holiday resort. Its extensive facilities and beauty has helped to make it an important centre of tourism, education and business. Located in the middle of England’s south coast, we benefit from the best weather the UK has to offer and are often referred to as the Cote D’Azur of England! Bournemouth is an ideal location to study English, it has so much to offer; among the top attractions are: 10 km of golden sandy beaches, over 200 restaurants & bars, tethered balloon flights and 2 major concert halls in the town centre.
Spencer Fordham at Capital School of English
Bournemouth has historically been a centre of excellence for International Education. Within easy reach of all the main transport hubs and serviced by its own International airport, Bournemouth is the gateway to one of the most beautiful and historic regions of the UK. Very close to the ancient New Forest and the World Heritage site of the Jurassic Coast, Bournemouth has much to offer for both seasonal and year round students. The town is incredibly student focused with an array of shopping and entertainment venues as well as the award winning golden beaches. Students often comment on the homely feel that Bournemouth offers.
Mandy Miles at Southbourne School of English
Sandwiched between the stunning countryside of the New Forest and golden beaches, the vibrant and cosmopolitan town of Bournemouth buzzes with activity all year round. Beautiful gardens and wide pedestrianized shopping areas grace the new-look town centre, with many of the streets taking on a stylish European feel. It is renowned as one of the major tourist and leisure resorts in England and has a very lively and international feel to it. Within easy reach of London and many English cities and airports, Bournemouth is situated on the border of Dorset and Hampshire, two of the most stunning counties in Britain.
Rebecca Willis from Eastbourne School of English believes Eastbourne to be the perfect destination for English language students.
Many students come to Eastbourne each year for English language courses, and with good reason. Eastbourne is a delightful seaside town with a population of over 100,000 people. It is famous for its beautiful setting between the hills of the South Downs and the sea, and its excellent sunshine record. Eastbourne School of English is located right in the centre of Eastbourne; all the town's facilities and accommodation are within easy walking distance. Eastbourne also has excellent transport links to London and its airports.
The nearby White Cliffs of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head offer spectacular views over the town and the English Channel. The green hills of the South Downs are on the west of the town. Some beautiful, unspoilt towns and villages lie in the Downs.
Eastbourne is a quiet, safe place with lots of facilities for students, especially during the summer. There is a large shopping centre, plenty of restaurants, bars and discos, two large sports centres, water sports facilities, three museums, an art gallery, three theatres, a multiplex cinema, a traditional seaside pier and numerous parks. Annual events include a major international tennis tournament, extreme sports festival, air show, food and drink festivals. Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour is the largest boat marina in Europe, with places for over 1100 boats.
Eastbourne School of English was founded in 1936 and has developed an international reputation for providing a wide range of quality English language courses for adults, expert teachers and excellent student services.
Scotland is particularly known for its whiskey, golf, a wealth of castles and historic sites. The Highlands area is famous for being one of the last wildernesses in Europe.
Home to the famous Edinburgh Festival, among many other seasonal celebrations, such as the Highland Games, the rolling hills and mountains create some of the most beautiful panoramas in Europe. In addition to the mainland, Scotland includes over 790 islands including the Northern Isles, such as Shetland and Orkney, and the Hebrides.
If you're travelling to Scotland don't forget to try on a tartan kilt (traditional skirt worn by men), play the bagpipes (Scottish instrument) and see if you can spot 'Nessie', a large sea monster rumoured to live in Loch Ness.
Population: 5 million
Main Languages: English
Minority language: Gaelic
Main Religions: Catholic, Protestant
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP)
Capital city: Edinburgh
Things to do
Loch Ness Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland by volume. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, cosy places to stay, and superb eateries. The Loch Ness Monster is just one of the many myths and legends to be discovered in this particularly beautiful part of Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle Perched on an extinct volcano, overlooking the city, this instantly recognisable and beautiful fortress is a powerful national symbol and part of Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.
Melrose Abbey A magnificent ruin on a grand scale with lavishly decorated masonry. The Abbey is also the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.
Dunvegan Castle and Gardens Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rock in an idyllic loch side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
Royal Yacht Britannia This magnificent ship has played host to some of the most famous people in the world but, above all, she was home to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
Peoples Palace Set in historic Glasgow Green, the Peoples Palace tells the story of the people and city of Glasgow from 1750 to the end of the 20th century. Explore the city’s social history through a wealth of historic artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs.
Stirling Castle Perched high on volcanic rock, Stirling provides spectacular views over two of Scotland's most historic battlefields - Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Much of today's castle dates from the 15th-18th centuries. The Great Hall has been restored to how it would have looked around 1500 and there are excellent interactive displays on the castle's history.
Lagavulin Distillery & Visitors Centre Established in 1816, the distillery occupies a site of six acres and stands at the head of a small bay. It draws water from the Solan Lochs. Take a tour of the distillery, see theirdistillers at work and view the unusual pear shaped stills. Peated malt, slow distillation and long maturation together ensure Lagavulin develops a complex, rich, peaty character.
Craigievar Castle This fairytale castle, which seems to have grown naturally out of the rolling hills, is open to visitors again, after a major conservation project. The Great Tower stands just as it was when completed by Master William Forbes Danzig Willie in 1626.
Wales has a population of 3 million and is just a few hours drive from Heathrow Airport. With 641 castles, 3 national parks and only one official motorway, you are free to take things at a gentle pace. The perfect place for trekking, Wales has an abundance of beautiful rolling hills, along with 750 miles of coastline.
Here is a country that has its own language completely unique to its region and is not spoken by any other country in the UK.
The longest name for a Welsh village is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Population: 3 million
Main Languages: English, Welsh
Main Religions: Catholic, Protestant
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP)
Capital City: Cardiff
Things to do
Cardiff Castle Discover 2000 years of history in the heart of the city. From the arrival of the Romans, through the Norman Conquest to lavish Victorian design − all have left their distinctive mark on the Castle.
Brecon Beacons National Park This is a beautiful part of Wales, with traditional market towns, stunning landscape, canal paths, castles and plenty of attractions. The scenery here is both beautiful and diverse-rolling countryside and valleys, wide open spaces to the wild beauty of the waterfalls and caves.
Silent World Aquarium Local Marine life, Reptiles and a multitude of creepy crawlies all housed in an attractive 19th century chapel of rest in peaceful and unusual surroundings. Always a warm welcome and fun things to see. A fantastic place on a wet day sit and have a coffee while the kids have fun holding a snake or just looking around.Gift shop and cafe. Beware of the Parrot though as he likes a finger if you are daft enough to offer him one.
Caernarfon Castle Mighty Caernon Castle is possibly the most famous of Wales's castles. Its sheer scale and commanding presence easily set it apart from the rest.
The National History Museum, St Fagans, still commonly referred to by its former title 'The Museum of Welsh Life', this is a fantastic 100 acre park on the edge of Cardiff filled with rescued, restored and authentically furnished buildings from all over Wales, in order to illustrate the social history of Wales and its people. Wales's most visited heritage attraction.
Castle Coch Perched on a mountain is a Bavarian style Castle just 15 minutes outside the centre of Cardiff. Castell Coch which means Red Castle is spectacular. Inside the rooms are decorated in an outlandish style. The castle will take about an hour to visit and the surronding woodland walks can fill up your day.
Oystermouth Castle This is a great castle with good views of the town and bay. You can go right inside and walk along the walls and turrets to access the breathtaking views. It'salso good value at only a pound entrance fee.
National Museum and Art Gallery The imposing buildings of the Civic Centre and the museum are a treat to see. Along with the gardens this is a great place to relax and have a picnic. The museum is free and once inside there is plenty to see. From giant mammoths and dinosaurs to paintings by Van Gogh. This art museum contains a wonderful collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art; it also contains a gallery devoted to contemporary Welsh artists.
Rhondda Heritage Park There is plenty to do and see at the park. There are simulated tours by former pitmen of the mine shaft, great for people who do not like going underground. Outside there are displays and interactive sites to show life above ground.
Dylan Thomas Centre The Dylan Thomas Centre is a great looking building that used to be Swansea's Guildhall. It is now dedicated to the life and work of Swansea's most famous son-Dylan Thomas. At the heart of the building is the free permanent collection telling the story of Dylan Thomas' life, it includes a mix of media and is an interesting attraction.
Llandaff Cathedral is a stunning cathedral with a long history. Having survived an errant bomb and other misfortune, the tombs, stained glass, and history combine to make this a must-see in the Cardiff area.
Esmee Quinton of Quality English, who grew up in Nottingham, highly recommends the city as a great city for English language students such as those at Quality English school, ILS English on Clumber Avenue.
The location is perfect. As Nottingham is in the middle of the country it couldn’t be easier for students to travel to the most popular tourist destinations, whether it’s sightseeing in London, shopping in Birmingham or walking in the beautiful Peak District. Public transport is safe, convenient and reliable so students can remain independent throughout their stay.
Famed for its Robin Hood connection, students visiting Nottingham can get lost in the legend, visiting attractions such as Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forest, the Major Oak and the Robin Hood Experience to name a few.
Nottingham’s market square is the largest city square in the UK, dominated by the grand Council House and contemporary water features. This central area comes alive at night with many places to enjoy music or dance the night away. For foodies, Nottingham has the largest selection of restaurants in the region. With such a multi-cultural population, visitors can try dishes from every continent. My favourite restaurant is Café Rouge on Bridlesmithgate, I would highly recommend it to students coming to the UK.
For those who enjoy their retail therapy, Nottingham is a shopping destination like no other, with numerous shopping centres and independent boutiques such as those found in the fashionable Hockley district to choose from. After a long day shopping, my favourite thing is to see the latest film at Nottingham’s famous Broadway cinema followed by a visit next door to the cosy Lee Rosy’s Café with over 100 types of tea to choose from.
Top 10 things to see and do
1. Visit Nottingham Castle
2. Take a walk through Sherwood Forest
3. Visit the oldest pub in England, the Trip to Jerusalem
4. Visit Newstead Abbey, home of poet Lord Byron
5. Discover the world hidden within Nottingham’s caves.
6. Spend a day at the Victorian Workhouse
7. Explore the Galleries of Justice, Nottingham’s old gaol.
8. Take a tour of Wollaton Hall and Park
9. Take a ride at Britain’s largest fairground, Goose Fair.
10. Take in some art at Nottingham Contemporary Gallery.
Useful websites for visitors to Nottingham: Experience Nottinghamshire