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Ruth Hill talks about the best places and times to visit Ireland during a Welcome to Britain class. Traveling opportunities were the main topic of the three-hour class.
Ruth Hill talks about the best places and times to visit Ireland during a Welcome to Britain class. Traveling opportunities were the main topic of the three-hour class. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL — For newcomers, England can be overwhelming with its rich history, laws, etiquette and numerous must-see locations.

To eliminate concerns and uncertainties incoming personnel may have, the Family Support Center at RAF Mildenhall holds a Welcome to Britain class open to anyone the last Friday of the month.

Is it proper for a woman to go into a pub alone? Is a passport necessary for traveling within the United Kingdom? And, what’s up with those yellow boxes with a built-in flash on the side of roads? These questions and many others were addressed at last month’s class.

Traveling opportunities in and around England were the main topic of the three-hour class, which is part of a cultural adaptation program. The mandatory newcomer’s briefing and an optional Bury St. Edmunds windshield tour on April 19 are the rest of the program.

Maggie Cotner, a community relations adviser, talked about England’s historical sites and punting (using a flat-bottomed boat pushed by a pole) along the River Cam in Cambridge. She recited in-depth stories about the country’s royalty as well.

Ruth Hill, from Ireland, dipped into the history of the Emerald Isle and told newcomers the best places and times to visit. Other speakers from the Newmarket tourism office and Information, Tickets & Travel shared more vacation tips.

A local “bobby,” or British police officer, gave advice on how to avoid being a crime victim. Americans have become the favorite targets for thieves in the local area, he said. That’s because they leave electronics and CDs in their vehicles. Battle Dress Uniforms are another popular stolen item, he added.

“Don’t leave opportunities for thieves,” British Police Constable Tony Westwood said.

Westwood also cautioned newcomers against speeding.

“Abide the speed signs, because there’ll be a safety camera waiting to catch you,” he said, referring to the automatic cameras that record speeding vehicles.

Lona Berndt, a community readiness technician at the Family Support Center, said the class has received “tremendous” positive feedback from newcomers, who also told her that they feel more empowered to go out and travel.

“That’s what we want — to provide information resources to help them have a positive experience here,” she said.

Berndt encourages newcomers — even those who have been here a year already — to attend. Almost everybody will learn something, she said, and they’ll be able to pick up some handouts and try English tea, scones and sausage rolls.

Carrying an armful of travel brochures, Terri Owen, a Department of Defense employee at the 100th Maintenance Group, said, “Everybody should tour the country that they’re in.”

About the free brochures, she said: “We don’t know the hot spots, places to go, but with all this in front of us, we have some ideas of the recommended places and things to look for.”

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