What are you majoring in at UWM?
I am History Major at UWM because I am totally passionate about developing a further understanding of how the modern world was shaped into what it is, essentially. It all stemmed from my high school History teacher, who was always so enthusiastic about what he taught and often praised me for my ability and willingness to learn. But I always feel like I learn something new, and that’s why I keep coming back to it!
Where are you right now?
I am studying abroad in Canterbury, England. English history holds a special place in my heart, particularly medieval history, and once I figured that out I knew that I had to come study here. The Kent countryside is a such a rewarding place for anyone even remotely interested in anything medieval.
What has been your favorite experience?
My favorite experience so far has to be Dover Castle! It is a remarkably well preserved landmark on the coast of England and plays such a key role in many areas of their history, from King Henry II who built it to a military base in WWII. I loved touring the castle and its grounds, really feeling like I had traveled back in time!
What is one thing you’ve learned about the customs and culture?
Everything is on your own time. When going out with friends, it’s easy to have an hour or two pass before you realize that your waiter hasn’t brought your check or even remotely hinted at bringing it by. The same thing holds true especially for afternoon tea, which they take incredibly serious here! It really gives one the opportunity for excellent people watching.
How is it different than living in MKE?
I think the most interesting difference between Canterbury (or any English town, for that matter) and Milwaukee is that “space” is entirely relative. What I mean by that is although there may be more people living in MKE, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it compared to the city layout in Canterbury. The streets and buildings are narrower, and people are much more comfortable with an invasion of personal space. It was a hard adjustment, and I definitely appreciate the ample space I had back in MKE!
But the vibes and attitudes are quite polite, which is refreshing. It catches you off guard when a stranger calls you “love” or “darling” the first few times, and if I’m being honest it still flatters me. In the same sense, it’s fun catching others off guard with an American accent, and you can tell they find it funny when you don’t understand what they’re saying. It’s an entertaining game we play for sure!
What orgs are you involved in back home?
I am a part of Kappa Tau Sorority and proud!
What does being a sorority girl mean to you?
Being a part of a sorority is such a unique experience of women empowerment, honestly. Inspiring confidence and self-love is such an important thing for women in the modern world to do for each other, and being in a sorority really allows you that experience. Like any family, it’s being there for your sisters when they need you, but not being afraid to reach out to them when you need it, too.
What book are you reading right now?
I am actually reading multiple books right now. Guilty as charged! But I am working on finishing up The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien, I just started The Night Manager by John le Casse, and I am paging through Field Notes From A Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Any advice for a college girl thinking about studying abroad?
You owe it to yourself to go. It’s as much a physical or geographical experience as it is a mental and emotional experience. Not often do you find a whole new world out your door everyday, but studying abroad gives that to you. I promise there is so much more to learn about yourself, and there are some things you just can’t learn by staying rooted where you are. You have to go out and explore if that is what your heart is telling you- so go and find that adventure!
Thanks for this awesome time to reflect on my adventure so far!- Grace Tomasi