During your time in the UK, it’s very likely that you will encounter memorable experiences that you’d like to treasure forever, perhaps on nights out with friends, or while traveling Britain and beyond. Oftentimes on vacations to unfamiliar places, we seek mementos, such as postcards or shirts, to remember our experiences by. However, your study abroad experience is much more than a vacation, and as such, you may be wondering if there are more engaging ways of documenting your experience. Here are three great ways to document your trip that don’t involve souvenirs:
Topics: Student Ambassador
We’re taught to use the buddy system the moment we start Kindergarten. Take a buddy to the bathroom. Take a buddy to the office. Here’s your field trip buddy. That’s your recess buddy. We have lab partners. We have PE dance class partners. We find a best friend. We find groups of friends. We go to dances and parties in pairs. We’re assigned a walking partner for high school graduation ceremonies. We’re assigned a college roommate. The list goes on.
Now – don’t get me wrong – I don’t disagree with the buddy system. I’m sure I’ll enforce it with my own kids someday. But I do think there are times in life that you should walk alone.
As we head into February, you may be beginning to get excited about the prospect of studying in the UK, and thoughts may have run through your head regarding what you should bring. If the excitement’s gotten the best of you, here’s five things you should consider adding to your packing list that you may not have thought of already:
Rich: having a great deal of money or assets OR plentiful and abundant
I left California thinking I was a well-rounded, well-travelled, rich (the second part of the definition) person. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Many of us create and collect our opinions, we determine what we value, and we decide who we want to spend our time with (as well as where we spend it) based on the environments we’re raised in. We – sometimes subconsciously – inherit these things from those that came before us: grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, etc. It’s safe and comfortable to believe and continue living within the “familiar”, and I’ve learned that there’s really nothing wrong with that. However, those that do seek and find the opportunity to travel come to know richness much greater than material or monetary items can provide.
Most of us aim to study with thoughts of a future job in mind. One of the best parts of studying abroad is that it opens up many avenues of networking that can lead to new contacts and resources that can help your future self, whether it be in the job market or even just for some tips and tricks down the line. Here are some of the best ways to network during your studies in the UK!
When I realized that I would be studying in Wales, my father did what many parents do and found some books about Wales. We spent a while flipping through the books, trying to find information about Aberystwyth (Aber-wrist-with), where I'd planned to study, and enjoyed the various facts we stumbled into along the way. However, some of the most interesting facts about Wales are best learned by visiting in person. Here are some things I have learned about Wales from my time studying here:
Sometimes I forget how completely, and amazingly might I add, different England is from America. We may speak the same language (sort of), but there’s also so much that we don’t have in common. For example, while the holiday rush in the last two months of the year in the US is focused on Thanksgiving and Christmas, in the England it’s focused around Guy Fawkes Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas.
If you can imagine celebrating the US Independence day in November, then you have successfully imagined Guy Fawkes Day. On November 5th every year, and the days leading up to, a slew of fireworks are set off all day long all around England in celebration of Guy Fawkes day. It’s a strange experience as an American where I’m used to watching fireworks on a hot July day in sandals, a pair of shorts and some ice tea, whereas here I was in my full winter ensemble with a hot cocoa in hand.
Topics: British Traditions
I’ll never forget the burst of excitement I felt as I walked off the plane in Manchester. I wore my backpack (the big one I’d use for weekend travel trips) and a huge smile (the kind that you can’t wipe off your face). After hours of preparation, I was finally in England – my new home for the next year. I found the bus that would shuttle me to the University of Sheffield, and an hour later, I was dropped off just outside my new flat. I checked in and was led to my room. None of my flatmates were around, so I decided to unpack before venturing out to find some food for dinner. It didn’t take long to organize my tiny room, so I sat on my bed, staring up at the pictures I’d taped to the wall. It was then that it hit me – I wouldn’t see any of the people that I loved the most for an entire year. I burst into tears, imagining all the things I might miss while I was gone. Unsure of how to make sense of what I was feeling, I decided to wander around Sheffield to clear my head. As I tried to follow a map, I looked up just in time to see the perfect advice. On what I later found out is the Psychology building (one of my classrooms), was a quote by Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning."
It was comforting to know that I would be studying abroad in another English-speaking country, however, one of my biggest concerns was losing points on assignments by forgetting “u” in “colour” or if my writing style wasn’t “proper” (British) English. Turns out, professors did not mind the US spelling (for the most part), were quite understanding, and well prepared for students to come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, languages, often non-native speakers.
Since living in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, UK, I’ve noticed that it is best to leave my house at least 20 minutes early for anywhere I need to be. Not because of traffic (I walk everywhere). Simply because the connections that you make with the locals in your community are unlike anything that you could experience living in the big city of London. I truly live in a town where ‘everybody knows your name’.