When I wrote the essay detailing just why precisely I should be accepted to study in England for a semester, I laid it on thick, making it sound as though finding myself atop bruisy, lilac-hued moors on the English countryside was somehow my birthright (something to do with a childhood spent watching A Little Princess and The Secret Garden only when I wasn’t gorging on Harry Potter books…). I actually used the phrase, “It is the place where I feel my heart has always lain.”
Looking back it was indulgent wording, though not altogether inaccurate. Because once there—after the choke and hubbub of Manchester Airport, after the left hand side passenger seat on the frantic motorway with neon-and-checkerboard police vans and after flashes of town signs bearing impossible-sounding names—the England that opened up to me really did feel like a homecoming.
The little town of Ormskirk, situated in the Northwestern scoop of England between its bigger, brasher neighbors Manchester and Liverpool, was every bit as quaint and cobble-stoned as the England of my imaginings. Once in the town proper, my driver took us down Ruff Lane, past tidy stone walls and beneath a canopy of green-gold leaf cover, then on through to the university.
West Lancashire and Ormskirk specifically can only be described as picturesque. If I had spent less time familiarizing myself with pints of cider, shots of absinthe and house beats I could wax poetic now about the ancient, moss-cracked stone churches or the way singular English roses climb picturesquely up the sides of walls even in late autumn. But I was slightly too busy socializing. And, turns out, that made as worthy an impression on me as the town’s charming half-timber architecture and open air market.