Thanks to Jane Austen for this title, who, according to Visit Bath, lived in the city for five years in the early 1800’s, and set two of her novels within its Georgian boundaries. Although Bath prides itself on its connection to Austen, has a museum dedicated to her, and even hosts a Jane Austen costume week in mid-September, the city has much more to offer than Austen-themed paraphernalia. In my first month in Bath, I feel that I have only experienced a small sampling of the city’s culture, beauty, and history.
I did not do enough research on Bath before I arrived. For whatever reason, I had an image in my head of a quaint, medium-sized town in the English countryside that would provide for a pastoral, and relaxing study abroad experience. However, Bath is a city of nearly 90,000 people (data from the 2011 survey), and is bustling with thousands of tourists each day. After going to school in D.C. for the last two years, and frequently venturing off campus, I have become accustomed to the city, and am glad that my preconceived notion of Bath was not correct. I would miss the excitement and wide-ranging opportunities that a city permits had I actually wound up in a small town. Although certain parts of my time in Bath have been pastoral and relaxing, overall it has been an exciting whirlwind.
I have tried and seen many new experiences and things in Bath in the past month. Highlights include attempting Regency period dancing, sunbathing (yes, the sun does shine in England) in the Victoria Gardens while gazing at the Royal Crescent, climbing over 200 steps to the top of the Abbey’s tower, and sampling some of the more popular cuisines in the city including traditional Moroccan and Nepalese foods. Additionally, my program, Advanced Studies in England, provides multiple opportunities to explore the cities and areas surrounding Bath. Thus far, I have been to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, and Blenheim Palace, all of which delighted my inner art history major’s nerdy heart. Seriously, few things are more awe inspiring than viewing in person world famous art and architecture that I had studied in class on slides. I also travel to Oxford once a week for a one-on-one tutorial with an Oxford tutor. In fact, the entire program just returned from a week of staying at University College in Oxford.
All of these experiences have made me more eager than ever to learn as much about my new hometown as I can. There are still plenty of things that I need to do in Bath before I can feel that I have truly experienced, and lived, in this fantastic city. Sitting at the top of my list are visiting No. 1, a museum dedicated to the history of the Regency era, enjoying a cream tea on Pulteney Bridge, and attending a home rugby match. I am not tired of Bath, and do not see myself ever being tired of it. Jane Austen, as in so many other things, is correct. No one can ever be tired of Bath.