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Journals from England 2008

2008-10-05 First Impressions...

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Linfield students on a morning walk around the campus lake...

Well, its been only three weeks since our group came to Nottingham and so much has happened in that time. I cant believe how much Ive learned and experienced, even in such a short amount of time. At first glance, England has a lot in common with home. Aside from the fact that the cars drive on the other side of the road, the language, scenery and even the popular music are strikingly similar to those in the United States. As time has passed, however, culture shock has definitely set in and Ive begun to notice the biggest differences as Ive become more settled in my residence hall and begun my classes, or modules, as theyre called here. Last week was known as Week One and consisted of seven days and nights of school-sponsored, student union-planned activities, the most popular of which were the themed club nights"a far cry from freshman orientation at Linfield! Yes, there is a lower drinking age, but describing England as a pub culture has so far been an understatement; even after Week One, there are still nightly bar crawls, rag raids, pub quizzes, meeting of the cocktail society, etc., etc., etc. The choice to drink is of course entirely your own and there isnt much pressure from students, but these situations are by far the most readily available forms of entertainment. I never realized how much my social life revolved around Starbucks until I came here and lattes were replaced with beer! Another change that has taken some adjustment is the size of the university, both in physical distance and in number of students. I still havent seen all of University Park campus, which covers 17 acres, and the school has several other campuses throughout the city. Several students from Linfield are living on Jubilee Campus this term, which is easily 2 to 3 miles away from my residence hall, and the walk between classes can sometimes take 25 or 30 minutes. This has taken some getting used to, as has life in a hall with 450 other students. Because of its size, however, the university has a lot of resources Im excited to take advantage of; more clubs, more departments, more on-campus entertainment. One pleasant surprise has been the diversity Ive found amongst the student body. 6,000 out of the 33,000 students at the University of Nottingham are international, and during one of my first dinners in my hall, I found myself sitting with at a table with other students from Australia, France, The Netherlands, South Africa and Greece. In some ways its been easier to get to know these international students than it has to connect with the ones from the UK because they too are away from home, and many have a few years of university under their belts. Ill definitely return to Linfield with a better appreciation of our own international students, as at a smaller school Im certain its harder to make these friends. On top of it all, Im thankful not only for the chance to make new friends, but for the chance to connect with some Linfielders I wouldnt have known before. Now that all the welcome activities have ended and Ive gotten my class schedule, Im eager to begin traveling and seeing more of this country that Im growing to love more and more each day!

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