My research for this blog led me to the three pillars of sustainable tourism. These are:
In order to make your trip to learn a new language truly sustainable, you should aim to assess it with each of these pillars in mind. This might sound like it's going to be tricky, but in this blog post I'm going to break it down for you and highlight three main areas where you could make your language travel more sustainable and eco-friendly.
If you are coming from outside Europe or flying is really the only option, there are still ways to make your onward travel more sustainable! The UK is well connected by railway – try taking the train from the airport to your destination, and for other trips during your visit. Taking the train from Cambridge to London is quicker, cheaper and easier than going by car, and much better for the environment! As well as adapting your longer distance travel, it’s important to think about how you’re going to get around where you are staying. If you come to our school, we are based in central Cambridge, making us very easy to get to by public transport, or, if you are already staying in the centre, by walking. We like to encourage all our students to limit their use of cars and taxis as there is really no need for them in Cambridge, not to mention it is impossible to find a parking space! Of course, as well as taking the service buses to get to and from the school and your accommodation, the best way to discover Cambridge is by bicycle! Cambridge is full of cyclists and racks to put your bike on while you’re in class or exploring the city centre. Not only is cycling one of the most eco-friendly ways to get around, with virtually no carbon footprint, it also keeps you fit! There are plenty of bicycle shops in Cambridge where you can hire a bicycle for the duration of your stay. This will be a lot cheaper than taking taxis, and if you hire them from a local business instead of a chain of shops you will be supporting the local economy as well. We can suggest the best bicycle hire shops in Cambridge, so let us know if you want to hire a bicycle to use during your stay.
Homestay is great not only because it is cheaper than staying in a hotel or private apartment, but because by paying for homestay you are directly helping local people and their businesses. It is also a socially sustainable option. Locals might see tourism in a negative light because it results in overcrowding and different standards of behaviour to what they are used to. If you were to participate in an exchange of traditions by staying in a homestay this would help to get them involved in the tourism industry, break down stereotypes and encourage your hosts to see a more positive side to tourism in the city. Living with local people also has the benefit of expanding your English outside the classroom, with native speakers. In our homestay you can eat your evening meal with your host, creating plenty of time to speak English in a relaxed setting while also learning about English food! You could also teach them some of your own language, as sustainable tourism should be a balance of receiving and giving.
Food and Drink
Cambridge is a hub of excellent food and drink. We even have our own Michelin star restaurant, Midsummer House. If you’re on a budget, however, there are lots of great places to eat that are also good options for sustainable tourism. Eating at independent Cambridge restaurants or from street food vendors is a great way to support local businesses that will make your trip more economically sustainable, and Cambridge has many of these. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich or pastry, try Norfolk Street Bakery, an artisan independent bakery that now has a second branch conveniently located near the train station. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat dinner, try The Punter; located very close to our school, it is a traditional pub serving classic British dishes, as well as an array of real ales. I also have to recommend Fitzbillies, famous almost exclusively for its ‘Chelsea Buns’ - swirls of cinnamon, icing and dried fruit. It wouldn’t be a visit to Cambridge without trying a bun at Fitzbillies, and as another small local business, they rely heavily on the tourism industry.
If you are looking to eat vegetarian or vegan, there are also some excellent local options. There is increasing evidence that one of the best things we can do for the environment is to reduce the amount of meat in our diet. This is made easy by restaurants like Stem and Glory, an incredibly well-reviewed plant-based restaurant that was runner-up in The Observer monthly food awards. If you’re after something less expensive and quicker to eat, head to the market square, just a five minute walk from our main school, and grab a vegan falafel wrap or a Mediterranean salad from the independent Mediterranean Falafel food stall.
Turning to drink - I have already mentioned The Punter pub, but if you were in search of some more Great British pubs it is worth visiting The Mill, which sits right next to the river, serving craft ales and craft beer, and The Eagle, a historic pub in the centre of Cambridge, famous for being the setting of Watson and Crick’s DNA chats. As well as supporting local businesses and being more sustainable towards the environment, paying a visit to the places I’ve suggested should ensure that you get some delicious food and drink in the heart of Cambridge.
Allegra Goodwin, Student Experience Manager