What to do in Norwich as an International student
Here are a couple of things I did during the first week of studying abroad in Norwich, England.
1. The Norwich Market
The Norwich Market is where I’ve been thriving. It’s the most colourful place in all of Norwich (amongst the other stone and brick buildings in the medieval Harry Potter-looking streets).
The Market is in the city’s centre with locals selling anything from vintage clothes and handmade soap to Chinese Bao and Italian pizza. The first time I came to experience it, it felt like a labyrinth with small corridors full of moving people—mostly tourists.
On the weekends, it’s hard to stop and look at what you want or else you’d stop the flow of foot traffic. Luckily, Kerstin and I went on a weekday and tried Lucy’s vegan fish and chips. I had vegan fish sticks and chips (around £4), while Kerstin tried a vegan tofu burger. The fish sticks tasted like real fish which was not what I was expecting. The vegans are getting closer to taking over and if it tastes anything like what I ordered, that’s fine with me.
Across from the fish and chips was fresh baklava. You could smell it and couldn’t say no for £1. Kerstin and I bought it to share as we ate sitting outside of a small cafe while people-watching with my first-ever British tea. It was the end of the day for school kids and they were running along the city streets. They looked like students from Hogwarts with their uniforms and accents. I was in a movie: Transported.
The second time I indulged at Norwich’s Market was with Maya and other international students. I had my first British bap with sausage and mushroom inside.
Bap is a soft bun with a spongy texture and a floured top, typically eaten as a breakfast sandwich. It’s commonly served with “brown sauce”, or HP as we know it in Canada.
The bap I got served was the size of a small plate, bigger than a burger, and cost £4. In my opinion, it tasted better than a burger, everything a sausage and egg McMuffin wishes it could be—and I of course ate it with my pinkies up.
When comparing the market food to the UK fast food chains, like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, the biggest difference is the price. As both of my filling meals came to around £4, Mark ordered a burger, fries, and a milkshake at Five Guys for £17—convert that to Canadian at around $26.
The Market food has culture—it has locals, and most importantly at a cheap price with free ‘people watching’ too. People watching is crucial for travelling somewhere new; it’s a traveller’s happy place.
2. Norwich Cathedral
Introducing one of my most British afternoons: starting with touring a cathedral in the morning, tea and scones in its very own cafe. It was two international friends and I being tourists and an old town.
The Norwich Cathedral was beautiful. It’s an Anglican Cathedral that felt never-ending.
There were three of us walking around the building for at least an hour. Glass mirrors, an expected silence, and even a cathedral cat created an ambiance of old religion and present respect.
I, myself, am not very interested in history. Since the UK has so much history and I am a traveller, of course I’m going to force myself to try to be, at least, a bit immersed and enchanted by its amazing ancient atmosphere. It didn’t work well.
Walking around this historical dream, all I could think about is how huge this old church is. It could fit a village, or maybe an extension of Hogwarts. As someone who’s also non-religious, I simply, again, just feel like I’m in Harry Potter.
Since it was a week after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s death, they had places where you could light candles in front of her picture and multiple “books of condolence” for people to write their appreciation.
After an hour of exploring this massive church, we ordered “cream tea” for £6.30, which included an afternoon tea and a scone.
There were around 10 teas to choose from while the scone choices were between cheese or raisin. I ordered white pear and ginger tea with a (sweet) raisin scone. They brought the tea to the table which was served with fancy silver dishes that seemed prehistoric themselves. The scones were massive and came with clotted cream and jam. I was full from the single scone.
3. Go to the Plantation Garden
The international, study-abroad student group of friends and I went on a walk into town and explored the nature of our new temporary home. We decided to check out The Plantation Garden, a restored Victorian garden close to the city centre.
Full of bright greenery and flowers, this was the kind of place I’d go to write about the world’s beauty. A place where you’d go on a date or get married. It was a garden where you’d go to appreciate growth—the plants growth and your own.
The garden was beside one of Norwich’s many old cathedrals, so we explored it like any group of tourists would. I wonder how long until cathedrals will get old…I mean accustomed (they’re always old).
4. Walk around the beautiful streets
Full of unique streets with little shops and restaurants at each corner, Norwich deserves to be walked and explored to feel less like a tourist and more like a local who lives here.
You have to get a picture of the famous picture of Norwich, the picture that persuaded me to study in Norwich instead of Leeds (jk, kinda).