England’s South Coast stretches across six counties and starting in the west, Cornwall is “an authentic English experience in the beautiful South West region”, enthuses Emily Young at Sul Language Schools. “Our families are located in or near small towns with great facilities, along with access to some of the best beaches in the South West,” she explains. Popular trips include St Michael’s Mount a spectacular castle built on rocks on a tidal island and the Eden Project (see below). The Cornish language gained official recognition in 2002 and its Celtic heritage is displayed in traditional sports such as Cornish hurling and wrestling, Young adds.
Moving east to Devon, the Torbay area is the only urban Geopark in the world, advises Dean Jones at Torquay International School. Torquay lies at the heart of the English Riviera and the bay is home to a pod of dolphins, attests Anna Robinson of Kaplan International College Torquay. “The sandy beaches, rocky coves, picturesque harbours and a wonderfully mild climate helps to make this an ideal place to study,” she says. The area has had famous endorsements over the years: it was Queen Victoria’s favourite city, says Jones, and Napoleon Bonaparte is reputed to have said “what a lovely country” when he arrived as a prisoner in 1815.
Of more modern charms, “The bay boasts a casino, two Michelin-star restaurants, a marina, pavement cafés and many wonderful attractions,” relates Jones. “For a local feel, visit the fishing village of Brixham, or sample the local seafood at one of Torquay’s famous restaurants before heading to one of the many bars and nightclubs on the harbourside,” advises Robinson.
Elsewhere in Devon, hiking on Dartmoor a national park on moorland Dartmouth Castle and Kent’s Cavern prehistoric caves are popular trips, says Jones. The nearby city of Exeter has, advises Anton Borgen Davis of Globe English Centre, Medieval passages dating back to the 14th century and a cathedral with the world’s longest Medieval gothic vaulting.
In neighbouring Dorset, “Bournemouth offers a safe yet exciting environment for international students to experience the best that Britain has to offer,” attests Richard Kelly at Eurocentres Bournemouth. Andrew Green at Kings Colleges advises the town has a large, cosmopolitan student population and that tourists come for the water sports: sailing, sea-fishing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing and boat trips. The nightlife is also a big draw, notes Clade Edwards at Kaplan International College Bournemouth. “Students can find out why British pubs are such a popular institution, with their friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and try their hand at the traditional pub game of darts. A vibrant nightclub scene in Bournemouth attracts packed houses at the weekend where an international party crowd dances the night away to top DJs.”
Dorset’s natural attractions offer more sedate enjoyment. Nearby Poole Harbour is the world’s second largest natural harbour, says Edwards. “There are walks through Westbourne and Bournemouth’s famous chines pretty, steeply wooded valleys following a stream that leads to the ocean where you can relax on seven miles of glorious sandy beaches, voted some of the cleanest in Europe.” The World Heritage Jurassic Coast, between Dorset and Devon, displays 185 million years of history in its rugged cliffs, and walks in the New Forest are popular.
In Hampshire, Portsmouth is the UK’s only island city and has a rich naval and multicultural heritage, advises Paul Spanner at Highbury College. “For cultural interest, Portsmouth is home to Admiral Nelson’s famous ship, HMS Victory, and to Henry VIII’s flagship, The Mary Rose.” The 170-metre Spinnaker Tower offers stunning area views.
Nearby in West Sussex, the University of Chichester has campuses in the ancient cathedral city of Chichester and the picturesque seaside town of Bognor Regis, informs Ian Jones. “Throughout the year, the beautiful historical towns and villages, sweeping lush parks, rolling green countryside and beautiful beaches are thronged with visitors from all over the world.”
Lyndsey Staunton at Centre of English Studies relates that Worthing, Sussex is a beautiful seaside town, where the town centre is full of shops, cafés and restaurants and the famous promenade offers relaxing walks. Nearby attractions include Arundel Castle and the Seven Sisters cliffs in the South Downs National Park.
Nearby, Brighton is often known as “London-by-the-Sea” attests Rachel Keogh of St Giles. It was, she says, voted the UK’s coolest city, not least because of its 400 pubs, bars, restaurants, theatres and cultural scene, as well as the Brighton Fringe Festival England’s largest open access arts festival and the Gay Pride carnival. The St Giles school is located in the heart of the cultural scene, adds Keogh, next to the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum & Arts Gallery. St Giles also has a school in the more genteel Sussex seaside town of Eastbourne, which is “a small, safe, relaxed and friendly town”.
In the southeast corner of Kent, “Hilderstone College is located in the seaside town of Broadstairs,” informs Lynne Hoenes, and “boasts wonderful golden, sandy beaches”. She lists walks on the clifftops, fishing trips, boat trips to see the seals, horse-riding and the town’s two surf schools as providing notable activities. Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle are nearby.
Although not on the coast, the channel island of Jersey, 161 kilometres south of the mainland, is an attractive destination for international students, attests Julia Brown at St Brelade’s College, as well as a communal and safe one with exciting activities (see box). Day trips to other Channel Islands are popular, “In Sark, students can experience a totally different pace of life, where there are no cars, just beautiful scenery and a relaxing day out.”
Several South Coast literary links interest many students. Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth and, Hoenes relates, wrote several books in Broadstairs, which has an annual week-long Dickens Festival. Torquay, meanwhile, was birthplace of the world’s biggest-selling author, Agatha Christie, and her house is a popular attraction, says Robinson. Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, is buried in Bournemouth, says Kelly, an area made famous as Wessex by Thomas Hardy. And Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was written in Worthing, adds Staunton.
“I have been sending my clients to the southwest for more than ten years and have always received very positive comments about the schools and the area. The region is what international language students expect to find in Great Britain: picturesque, ‘chocolate-box’ villages; beautiful, verdant countryside; bustling, cosmopolitan cities and authentic English hospitality. If you add to this the history of the area: the Jurassic Coast; Stonehenge; the Roman baths (Bath); St. Peter’s Norman Cathedral (Exeter) and the Pilgrim Fathers (Plymouth), you have the perfect combination of study, culture and enjoyment all wrapped up in one destination.”
David Andrews, Braden English, Spain
“The Czech Republic is an inland country so the fresh sea air is a welcome benefit to Czech students. The South Coast has both large and small towns with a good tourist infrastructure. As for the Channel Islands, it is a special destination, not easily reached (students have to change flights), but they provide a special combination of a small seaside resort and rural paradise, which many Czechs find attractive.”
Karel Klusak, Intact, Czech Republic