Monday, October 13, 2008

Anna - England - Fall 2008

Hi everyone! I've been in London for 3 weeks now, and as much as I am still adjusting to everything, it is so amazing here! I love the city so much!!! There is so much to do and see, and everything is so beautiful.
It's crazy to see some of the buildings and know they have been standing for hundreds of years.
I came through the IFSA Butler program so the first few days were the IFSA orientation. It definitely helped to adjust to the city and the shock of actually being here. We had a few lectures, but they took us out to dinner a few nights and the theatre, and it was just a great way to meet other American students who were in the same situation as me, not knowing anyone! After the IFSA orientation I came to school where I moved into my flat, had international student orientation and a lot of free time to explore and start doing some tourist sightseeing. So far I have been to the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum, Shakespeare Globe Theatre and much more. I have also seen a lot of plays and musicals already already in the West End (like Broadway) and around the city. I just can't get over how much stuff there is to do. The tube (underground transportation like the El) is so easy to use, a lot easier than the El I think. There are two stations within 5 minutes from my campus so I can pretty much get anywhere in the city really easily. My campus is in the East end of London, which means it is out of the very touristy part of the city. It was nice to stay in central London during orientation, but I think it'll give me a better overall experience of the culture and lifestyle being outside the tourist area and grocery shopping and eating with real Londoners.
My flat is awesome! It is so nice, I have my own room and bathroom and then share a kitchen with 9 other people. The campus is quite small for such a large University, but there are buildings everywhere, and they are in the process of building 2 more right now. Since it's in the city they don't have any room to expand out, so they just keep building on the property they have so some of the buildings are very close together. They use to have a mall like Elmhurst, but that is not covered with buildings.
Classes started last week, they are going to be very different than at home. There is a lot of work and reading and not a lot of class time. I only have a class one day a week for 1-2hours and that's it. It is definitely going to be a hard to adjust my study habits to doing more work independently.
Most of the people I have met have been so nice. One of the first night's I was here I was in Notting Hill with some people and we were looking at a map trying to find something and these two women just walked up to us and asked if we needed help. Everyone I have asked for directions has been really helpful and all the British students I have met have been so interested in why I was here and American culture and things like that.
I am having a ton of fun, but it has and still is an adjustment to not being at EC and having that same routine. Each week keeps getting easier and I know there is just so much more that I have to look forward to...
even though the conversion rate is killing my bank account ;). If you have any questions about London or anything, I'll try to answer as soon as I can. Cheers! Anna


Blogger krista.wiley said...

Hi Anna! I'm so glad that you are enjoying England. I'm going to be headed over there next semester to study at Oxford and I'm really looking forward to it. It sounds like you are seeing a lot of new things and meeting a lot of new people. I hope my living arrangement turns out to be as great as yours. When I study abroad I'm going to keep in mind what you said about the transition, "It gets easier every week." I'm a little bit worried about leaving my comfortable EC routine.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

Hi, I'm also doing a study abroad next semester in London. I was wondering about using the telephone there... I heard you could rent a cell phone, did you look into that? Or just bring your cell from home?

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

Krista- It was definitely hard for me to leave my comfortable routine of Elmhurst. Even though I went into the situation knowing it would be hard and different, it still shook me a little. It took me almost a month to really get into a good routine and start enjoying everything. It was hard because the first two weeks I was doing all this orientation stuff and then once classes started I had to start all over again.

Almost everyone I know here has gone through that curve we talked about in class. But it really does get easier every week and I'm sure by December I'm not going to want to go home. The best piece of advice I got before I left was to just go out and do stuff. If you're feeling homesick or upset, just go so something. Don't sit in your room thinking about how much you miss home, it'll only make it worse. Some of the best times I've had are when I've just gone out into the city by myself and seen a museum or play. There is just so much to do! Hope that helps!

Veronica- I bought a really cheap phone over here and have a pay as you go plan. Almost everyone I know has done that. It's nice because you can get an international pay as you go plan hat's really cheap, or just a plan to call/text people in the UK. My family has my phone number for emergencies, but I only talk to them over Skype. I do know some people who found carriers in the US with a good international plans, and just brought their phone from home, but it's so easy to just buy one over here. There are phone stores everywhere in the city!

I would suggest bringing your own cell phone for the traveling to and from part, because I had an issue with a plane and it was nice to have my pone so I could call my parents. Hope that answers your questions.


7:48 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

Thanks so much for the answer! I had another question though... besides more independent study how different is college in the US versus England? Do you find your "getting more" from the independent work or less?

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Shannon D. said...

Hey Anna! I am studying in Oxford during the spring semester. I already have my classes set up for the semester, but what differences are there between British teaching styles and American? Are you taking lots of English classes? I will hopefully get lots of chances to go into London, are there any places you recommend? I went to England this summer through a summer class, and I found some really cheap tickets for the Phantom of the Opera. Have you had a chance to see any theatre yet? I hope that you are still doing well, and enjoying yourself!

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

Honestly it is not as different as everyone made it out to be, and I’m not the only American who feels like that. It is different to have less contact hours with the professor. I only have each class once a week, and in one of my classes the lecture and the seminar group leader are different, which seemed a little strange to me, but it's been ok.

The biggest difference is the reading load. In my classes we have a set amount of reading to do, but we also are expected to do other reading than that which pertains to our final essay/project. However British students like most Americans procrastinate too. In my classes everyone I know has only done the required reading and all the British students I know say they always wait to do the rest till the last minute when they need more sources in their paper. British students are also less talkative in class, they don't participate as much, because it's never been apart of their grade. So in my experience so far, the American students talk the most al long with a few British students, but it has been hard to get use to being one of the only people to talk in class.

I know someone who went to Oxford last semester and she said the class structure was quite different, so maybe it would be useful to ask Alice for the name of someone who went to Oxford and see if they have any advice for you on class differences.

You definitely should get into London. There is so much to do. I have seen a lot of theatre since I’ve been here. A lot of theatre have rush or student discounts an hour before the show on the off days, M-W. Or if they don't you can get cheaper tickets at the TKS Half Price Booths.

I would recommend the Tower of London; it was definitely worth the money for me. There is so much to see and it's so interesting, I spent about 3 1/2 hours there. Otherwise there is so much to do for free, I’ve enjoyed visiting all the museums and galleries for free, and I still have a bunch more that I want to see. I’ve also tried to take advantage of the easy travelling opportunities. There is so much to see around the UK and Europe is so close, that if you’re interested in doing it you definitely should!

Hope that helps. If you have any more questions feel free to keep asking.

4:03 PM  

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