So far I have not engaged a lot with the local culture. I have done a few things, like go to some interesting club meetings and explore different groups. I have a gym membership now at the local school gym so there I get a good chance to engage in the local culture a little bit. One of the things I have noticed about the local culture is that everyone goes to pubs a lot. Pubs are for drinks after work and nobody really gets food. It is more of just a sit, talk and drink vibe. Another thing that has been clear about the local culture is that it is very fast pace and everything is go go go. Everybody has somewhere to be and something to do here. The city is always awake and even when you think nobody is going to be at a super early bus or train there are always a good amount of people.
Some things that I love about the local culture is that it is so diverse. London is a big mixing pot full of people from all over the world. Almost everyone you walk by here is speaking a different language so it is cool to hear. Another thing that I love about the local culture is how helpful everyone is. Well maybe not every person but for the most part, there are a lot of kind people that will help you if you look like you are really struggling with getting around. Some of the things I am still adjusting to is the currency. I still sometimes say dollars instead of pounds which can draw some interesting looks. In addition to that, I am still getting use to the different words they use for certain things in London. For example, trainers are said for shoes, jumper is said for a sweatshirt or crew-neck, trousers are pants, that kind of thing. Overall, I am really enjoying the local culture here and I am looking forward to becoming more immersed in it as the semester goes by!
Right now I am on week four of the semester. Studying in London is much more independent compared to studying at home. Each week the modules I take have lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the day. The lectures and seminars are around two hours each and you are not assigned homework or assignments each week. The assessments are also much different than home. Some of my modules only have one assessment at the end of the semester that count for 100% of your grade, while others have two or three pieces of coursework that make up a majority of your grade. So far I like the class dynamic, it is less demanding but you are still expected to know the topic being discussed. The professors are very knowledgeable, trustworthy and caring towards all the students. The students in my modules consist of local, international and US study abroad students. Another thing I forgot to mention is that attendance if different than what I am use to. Each lecture, seminar and workshop you have to “tap in” with your student ID on these little black boxes when you enter the room and it records your attendance.
My favorite place in the university is probably the study/lounge area in the business building. This area has a cafe and is full of comfy chairs and pods that you can relax and study in. So far the best thing that I have discovered at the university could be the creativity space. This space is not on my campus but I have one of my modules here. It is a space with endless amounts of resources in the arts and sciences building. They have the newest technology that you are free to use, digital touch screens, comfy couches and so much more. Overall it has to be my favorite because it has so much to offer. I am looking forward to expanding my marketing knowledge as the semester progresses!
So I got lost in the tube (subway) for the first time yesterday! It was not the best experience but overall adjusting to London has not been terribly hard. Navigating the city took some time getting acclimated to but I think I got it down now. I went into this experience knowing that almost everything is going to be different than home and not to expect a lot of similarities. There are some similar things compared to home that I have picked up on. London has a good amount of food places that we have at home such as, Chipotle, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Burger King. A few new things is that they drive on the left hand side over here and adjusting to looking the other direction has been somewhat of a challenge. I have been doing the classic “triple check” as my other American friends say over here, just to make sure I don’t get cleaned out by a car, bike or bus. Another new thing that is completely different is that instead of asking ‘hows it going’ they say ‘are you alright’ which kind of caught me off guard at first. Additionally, something that is new and exciting is being so close to so much; from all the things to do in the city to all of Europe being in reaching distance. I love that this city has so much to offer. There is every kind of food you could name, giving me endless options of where to eat.
Being a new comber in a different country can but tough, but also entertaining. There is a lot I do not understand but it is entertaining to see how different some methods of doing things are. Everything is done in a certain way, for a certain reason. For example, taxi’s are allowed to drive in the bus lanes because they need to get around fast and need to be able to pick up anybody calling for one. Being a new comer in a different country has made me realize that each place has their own way of doing things efficiently. It has also made me realize how many of the methods used here would not work at home.
Arriving in London was both exciting and nerve racking. My first impressions were that it is very loud and busy just like any big city but this was a little different. I felt bombarded with all the things London has to offer. At first the transportation system looked like a labyrinth consisting of unlimited ways to go in every direction. On the other hand this made it very easy to discover that London has so many places to eat and so many things to do, all of them look appealing. The city is a lovely combination of old buildings and modern buildings. Usually that combination is not appealing and doesn’t work for a big city but everything from the cobblestone roads to the Shard fits so well together. The weather here is constantly between the 40’s and high 50’s, which is not terribly cold. It does rain a lot in London but if you always have your umbrella its no big deal.
When I first moved into my home here my initial reactions were that the building is nice and the rooms are good for living so close to the city. I am not entirely in the city but just outside of central London in a really nice neighborhood. My room is on the 11th floor of my building so my view of the city is awesome. It is a small room with a good size desk and small bathroom. I’m not upset with my living situation here, I am in a suite with five other people some girls, some guys and we have a shared kitchen. The only thing I am not really a fan of is the fridge we have. Mostly everyone cooks here because eating out in London all the time is expensive especially where we are so, it is a bit small for six people to share.
Lastly, the University of Westminster business school is wonderful. All but one of my classes are right downstairs in the business school so it is really convenient. The classroom sizes are about what I am used to at Umass Dartmouth. They are nicely looking modern classrooms with a lot of new technology which is always a plus. It is definitely different from my home university but so far I am really enjoying the learning environment here!
What is it like preparing to go abroad for a semester? Both exciting and stressful. There is much to worry about but also much to look forward to! London is a big city and this is going to be my first time out of the country, so I am definitely nervous. Packing was a lot harder than I imagined, I had to go through all my clothes and pick out outfits that would go together in multiple ways in order to not bring many things. I also had many questions before departure which is expected, so I got a lot of information and reassurance from other family members that have traveled outside of the country and my program CIS. The thing that I fear the most is struggling to find a good group of people that are willing to travel and explore the same places as me. When it comes down to it, the making friend’s part is not that difficult and I’m sure everybody will be on the same page as me. Another one of my fears is that I will lose close friendships with my friends back home. I know I won’t be able to talk to them every day but before I left, they made me feel okay about leaving.
I am most looking forward to discovering new places and going outside my comfort zone. I cannot wait to see new places and travel to lots of countries around Europe. I’m not going to talk about the typical ‘finding yourself’ aspect but I am certainly excited to see how far I can push myself to try new and spontaneous things. There is a big world out there and I want to see the most I can of what is around me.
Leaving the U.S. and navigating the airport really is not too difficult. The worst part is going through customs and having your prepared documents ready to show to a border patrol officer. The directions were clear for me and I was met by my programs’ onsite coordinator at the airport. Overall, they made it very easy for me to get into London by providing us with transportation from the airport with the rest of the group.