Her Campus Nottingham and Her Campus Boston College - Study Abroad Special!

Her Campus Nottingham (HCN) and Her Campus Boston College have collaborated to bring you some insights into what it’s like for a Briton to study abroad in the US, and an American to study abroad in the UK!

We asked some of our college/university friends about their experiences about studying abroad in the US/UK and here’s what they had to say.

 

1) Where did you study abroad and was there any particular feature of the University/location you chose that drew you to it?

 

HCN Tianna:

I studied in the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, Tennessee. I knew that I wanted to study abroad in the USA because I had heard that it was less difficult academically and so there would be a lot of time there for personal development. I had already been to America before, with family in New York and Florida, so I knew that I wouldn’t suffer any major culture shocks while I was there, aiding me to assimilate and appreciate the culture more smoothly and quickly than my other study abroad peers. I opted for all Southern universities (North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) because these were states people don’t often think to go to, especially as a black student. It was an interesting time to apply there, especially as a black woman because at the time Donald Trump was running for president, but I had also just read an article that said that black women are most educated in the USA. I wanted to go there and experience whatever these women of colour were experience that was aiding their academic excellence, despite being part of two protected groups: black and female.

HCN Amara:

I’m currently studying at Emory and Henry College, one of the smaller colleges in America. Basically, I wanted to experience more of a community feel within university, for example having my lectures and professors get to know you as an individual and work with you on a smaller scale.

HCBC Reagan:

I chose to study abroad at Queen Mary’s University London. I chose this location because I heard it geographically situated in a way similar to my university in America. You have an actual campus on which students live, but it is still easy to travel into central London. Queen Mary’s was located right next to the tube, the subway system in London, which travelled quickly and effectively so it was never a long trip to get anywhere in London. This allowed me to live on campus and to meet by British roommates, learn about British culture, so I had the protection of a campus and a home to go to, but I could easily go on adventures!

 

HCBC Olivia:

I studied at University College Dublin last semester. I knew that UCD had a strong English program, and I love Irish literature, so as an English major, that was one of the main aspects that drew me to UCD. Ireland is such a beautiful country as well, and I had been wanting to visit for a while, so it was the perfect fit! BC also has an apartment right in the city, which was great!

2) Would you want to visit/study there again?

 

HCN Tianna:

This is a hard question. Coming back to study in the UK has been really hard for me because there is a significant gap in the amount of contact hours, difficulty and leisure time between America and the UK. I enjoyed being there, and studying there, and was definitely given the time and space to learn about myself and work on myself. I would definitely visit because I’ve made lifelong friendships while being there but I don’t think I would go back for an extended period of time again.

HCN Amara:

Yeah! I actually am looking into transferring to Emory and Henry College so I can finish my degree here because I love it so much!

 

HCBC Reagan:

I would visit London again in a heartbeat, or anywhere in the U.K for that matter. I do not think I could study there though because I am much more used to the structure of the American education system. I value the greater attention we receive in school and the greater amount of time spent learning in the classroom. On the other hand, it was great to have so much free time to travel around England and Europe.

HCBC Olivia:

I would definitely visit again! I loved my time in Ireland, and it was amazing to be able to meet people from all over the world. The way classes and exams are structured is different than it is here in America, but I enjoyed having the extra time to travel throughout Ireland and to other countries.

 

3) What was the biggest cultural shock that you encountered?

 

HCN Tianna:

I had already been to America on holiday before, however, I had never been to such deep-south states like Tennessee. Most communities in the south are isolated from other states, and so the members of the community that I was in knew very little about the outside world. My biggest culture shock was finding out how little black Tennesseans knew not only about external, international black communities, but also their own histories. I would also say that the level of poverty and poor infrastructure in America was a shock. The further South you go the more poor it seems to get.

HCN Amara:

The biggest cultural shock for me is definitely the gun issue in America. I go to places like Walmart and they are just selling them on a counter like iPads, it’s crazy. I’ve even seen people carrying them around sometimes which is scary for me. 

HCBC Reagan:

Going to an English speaking country I did not encounter a strong culture shock like you had traveled elsewhere. London, however was very diverse, which was amazing to be around and to learn about so many different cultures. I had never before been in a place this diverse.

HCBC Olivia:

I don’t think I experienced any significant culture shock, but I did notice a major difference in the education systems. Classes met less frequently than the ones at BC, and we didn’t always have homework assignments; most of my classes just had one exam, or a few smaller exams and papers, which wasn’t something that I expected.

 

4) How easy was it to travel to other destinations from your location?

 

HCN Tianna:

It was very easy, considering how big America is. While I never left the country, it was not necessary for me to do so. Instead, I took advantage of being able to experience as many states I could go to. I have now been to New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana (in addition to New York, Florida and Tennessee). We often had to travel to larger surrounding cities, mostly Atlanta, GA in order to catch buses (coaches) to other states.

HCN Amara:

It’s pretty difficult if you don’t have friends who will drive you and go places with you. The south has no public transport so you basically need a car. There are a few bus services that will take you from Virginia to DC but they aren’t very safe and take about 11 hours.

HCBC Reagan:

It was extremely easy to travel to other locations. Living in London allowed us easy access to multiple forms of public transportation. I could easily hop on the train and travel anywhere in the U.K., and anywhere in continental Europe. I once took the train to Paris for a day trip and it was so easy. London also has five airports to choose from and is a central city so you can easily find a relatively inexpensive flight to most European countries. I could get anywhere via public transportation whereas in America I find that I need a car to get most places.

HCBC Olivia:

It was really easy to travel throughout the country and to other countries as well. There is a bus and an airport shuttle that stops right outside of campus, which made it easy to spend a day in the city or get to the airport to travel to other countries. There were a ton of great deals on flights, and most flights were under two hours, so it wasn’t that difficult to travel as often as you wanted!

5) What and where was the best food that you had?

 

HCN Tianna:

A lot of the food was similar, regardless of which part of America you were in. This included burgers and fries more than 90% of the time. I would say my favourite food spots were in Chattanooga, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana. In Chattanooga I had loads of home cooked meals and that was better than campus food, and in Louisiana there was mostly seafood, which I am a massive fan of.

HCN Amara:

In the south, particularly south-west Virginia, they love this thing called biscuits and gravy which to the English is savoury scones with a white gravy-like sauce. They eat it for breakfast which is crazy but this has no relevance to the question because I actually hate it. The best food has got to be Chick-fil-A. It’s the best fast food EVER; so much better than McDonald’s, and their honey roasted BBQ is amazing. Also Ocharleys, Red Lobster and IHOP.

Basically all-American food. 

HCBC Reagan:

In London I could not get enough of Cadbury chocolate. I also loved Paul’s for a quick sandwich or morning pastry. Camden Market was also such a fun place to go and try all sorts of different and delicious food ranging from panini’s to Danish pancakes. The pizza and pasta in Italy were unreal (and so was the Gelato). Honestly, the food was all so amazing it is so hard to pick anything out above the rest.

HCBC Olivia:

The food was abroad was amazing! I think my favorite food had to be the pasta in Italy. I also loved the pastries in Paris, and the scones that I had in Ireland and England! There’s one smaller cafe in Dublin called Beanhive, which had the best scones and coffee!

6) Were there any particular behavioural differences that you noticed in American/British people that you felt you had to adapt to?

 

HCN Tianna:

I would say that this was probably intimacy within friendships. In America, you have roommates and suite-mates, so you live very closely to your friends. You wake up with them study with them, eat with them, go to games with them and literally sleep in the same room with them. So there is this culture of closeness there that you don’t experience in Britain. Constantly ending conversations with “I love you” took some getting used to, as all of my American friends have no problem showing affection through words and then physically as well, by hugging all of the time and crying on your shoulder. Even on Valentines day, people walk around campus giving each other chocolates and roses (and condoms), and friends buy thoughtful gifts for one another.

HCN Amara:

So behaviour is actually really noticeable here because every single person is so friendly - every time I walk past people I have to stop and talk and it takes like 30 minutes for me to get to my classes. Also Americans don’t understand our English negativity and jokes because they take it too seriously so I’ve had to tone it down. In terms of adapting I cannot stop saying y’all, and you have to love American football or they’ll kill you.

HCBC Reagan:

Not really. Again, going to an English speaking country meant that a lot of the customs were similar. I know the Brits have a dryer sense of humor, but I too have a dry sense of humor so I understood it. I was quite shocked though that it was the norm to be silent on the tube and to talk during rush hour meant that you were not a native Londoner. 

HCBC Olivia:

I don’t really feel as if I had to adapt to anything, but the Irish were so friendly and personable! Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and they were more than willing to introduce you to their friends and bring you along to club meetings or events.

 

Sources:

https://d3vl3jxeh4ou3u.cloudfront.net/RS%20Road%20Trip.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/7e/59/f8/7e59f86cdefb806fbdee762df600ed48--vintage-diner-burger-and-fries.jpg

https://images10.newegg.com/BizIntell/item/32/504/32-504-001/box.jpg

http://media.al.com/living_impact/photo/chick-fil-a-bf579dcbb3d06e0c.jpg https://www.eatinglondontours.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/3108204494_424fcec5b7_b.jpg

https://media.thetab.com/blogs.dir/86/files/2016/05/qumull.jpg

http://tennessee.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-01-11-utia.jpg

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/sites/default/files/institution/header_image/university-college-dublin-campus.jpg

Some images also sourced from interviewees