Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Joceline R - London, UK - Fall 2014

Hello, everyone! My name is Joceline and I have been in London at Queen Mary University for about 3 weeks now and it has been a nonstop adventure! I used to think that England wouldn't be that different from the U.S because they speak English here too, but was I wrong. There are many things that one has to get used to just like crossing the street. I’m probably having more trouble with that than I should but thankfully some streets have ‘look left’, ‘look right’ written on the roads for you. Also, whenever I’m in public such as on the tube or eating out, I try my hardest not to be “the loud American”. People usually don’t speak while on the tube and when they do speak in public it’s close to a whisper. Sometimes the only reason I know I am being too loud is when I start getting the stares…
But anyways, I've been trying to keep myself busy and trying to do something new every day because I know three months would go by quickly. So far I am doing well, I've visited Big Ben, Tower of London, different palaces, royal parks with beautiful gardens, museums, churches and many more sites in just a short time. I’m planning to go to Paris for a weekend trip this month and Stonehenge & Bath and hopefully Amsterdam next month! This was a different experience for me being so far away from my family and being more independent. I thought that I was going to be homesick right away but so far (may sound horrible) I don’t miss home at all. I’m having so much fun seeing things that I only dreamed of seeing and exploring what’s around my new home. The schoolwork (you know because there is the studying part still) isn't too heavy, I only have classes once a week and three days a week and the assignments are all reading. Also, because London is such a diverse city you meet people from all over the world & learn about their cultures and customs as well. Fun fact: apparently they don’t have squirrels in Australia, so you will see Australians taking videos of them at the parks. So far this has been a one in a lifetime and amazing experience & I can keep rambling on but I won’t. Wish you all the best on your future study abroad adventures!
P.S A little advice: Even if it seems like a lot of work make sure you do the class assignments & especially the binder assignment well because it was very helpful for the first week, especially upon arrival to the airport & university! And feel free to ask any questions (even the ones you aren't forced to ask) or concerns that you may have because when I was taking the class I knew I had tons of questions!!!!


Anonymous Marie S said...


Hello! It is very reassuring that you do not feel that homesick, I was a little concerned about that. That is funny about the street signs telling you which ways, sounds helpful! As linked to the adjustment and adaptation, how was your personal culture shock there in the UK? At first was it a little bit overwhelming?

Thanks for your help!

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Marie,

Don't worry that was a concern of mine as well of being homesick but I think that as long as you keep yourself occupied you won't even have time to feel homesick!

To answer your question about culture and adjustment it was overwhelming for me because firstly I was jet-lagged since I took an overnight flight and arrived in the morning at London. After I arrived at my University I unpacked & then had to go enroll and then I went to buy groceries which was a culture shock moment for me. Reason being, that was the first time I was going to use British pounds and they have different coins & bills which made me nervous that I might overpay or not get the right change back without me noticing. Secondly, the fact that they don't sell the usual food I eat at home caught me really off guard. Also, just seeing the different names they have for food was very different such as our brand of "Lays" chips they're called "Walkers" here. But I adjusted by trying new types of foods to buy at the grocery store and I actually began to like certain foods more here than back home! Hope this helped, feel free to ask more questions :)

8:25 PM  
Blogger Gina Skiris said...

Hi Joceline,

First of all it sounds like you are having a great time in the UK so good for you! Second I would like to thank you for informing me that there are no squirrels in Australia. I will be studying abroad in Australia next semester and that is not something I was aware of. Anyway was it difficult picking classes in the UK? I am working on that now and there's so many choices it's more difficult that I though it would be.


8:50 PM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Gina,

So I'm not sure how it is in Australia with the whole process of choosing classes, but it was a bit frustrating for me while choosing classes. Reason being, that they have lecture and seminars for each class with different times and they assign you a certain time which was hard for me to figure out if any of the classes will clash. But then once I got here I was able to switch seminar times to make my schedule work for me. Hopefully you won't have that problem. Also, just choose classes that seem interesting to you & that could possibly let you learn more about where you are staying. For instance, one of my classes is Language in the Uk and its really interesting! Wishing you the best of luck while you choose your classes!:)

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Sarah Astra said...

Hey Joceline,

So, I was wondering how you picked your classes and how you found out which classes at through your program were right for you? I know I've been a little scared that the time I spend abroad might not count towards my degree. Also, how are your classes different from classes that you take here in America?

Let me know.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Sarah,

It might be different for you but since I am a nursing major I pretty much have my schedule mapped out for me for the whole four years I'll be at Elmhurst. So I already knew what types of courses I was going to take abroad. The course searching was simple because on the school's website they had the courses that associate students could take. I just had to find courses that were equivalent to the ones back home and to make sure it was going to count towards my degree, I had to speak with my nursing adviser & Dr. Lagerway (now Alice will do this I think) to make sure my Aoks would transfer. Yes, my classes are certainly different from the ones I am taking at Elmhurst because there is a lot more independent reading. And the majority of my classes the grade depends on two essays for the entire course. So it's not too bad.

But don't be afraid that you'll be taking classes that won't count to your degree, just make sure you meet with an adviser in your major to see if the courses you plan taking are equivalent to the ones you need. Hope this answered your questions, and feel free to ask more! :)

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am headed to Queen Mary in a few months and we just got our housing assignments and they mentioned that you might be living with people from other countries besides England. If that is your experience, have you found that your different cultures have clashed or complimented each other?


10:42 AM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Mary,

So I'm currently living in Creed Court and my flat consists of 6 people in total. Just to give an over view of cultures: 3 are from England, 1 from China, 1 from Italy and then there's me. I know some people that has almost all Americans with a few British in their flats, so it really varies. But for me there is definitely no clash with the different cultures. I have learned so many interesting things about their cultures. And if you're lucky enough (like me) that your flatmates cook food from their homes, you even get to taste some new things! Some may consider language to be a clash because of the different cultures but it's actually fascinating to see what words you use in your own home culture that others may not know. But I wouldn't consider language a clash because you will still be able to understand each other! Hope I helped, and if you have any more specific questions on Queen Mary please don't hesitate to ask!

11:27 AM  
Blogger Theresa Kolodziej said...

Glad to hear of how you reacted to how different the UK is! I'm trying to keep a mindset that, though the US has many ties to the UK, it will be quite different and not to underestimate culture shock.

How does your school experience there compare to school at home and even to students also in the UK but studying in Oxford?

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Mary D. said...

Hi Joceline,

Thanks for answering my question about the housing stuff. I have some questions specifically about the school and social things.

In regards to classes, did you find it easy to get to your classes? Are they reasonably close to where you live? I am kind of worried because my class schedule is looking like there will be an hour or so between some classes and if traffic/traveling is difficult, I might not make it in time. Have you found that professors are understanding of circumstances that might make you late to class? Also, on average, what size are you classes? It is easy to adjust to coming from Elmhurst where most classes are under 20?

Along those same lines, I am looking at only being in class two or three days (it's looking more and more like two days) and I was wondering if there were ways that you found to occupy yourself?

Bonus random question: everyone keeps on reminding me that London is expensive. Have you found any quality places to get food/groceries/books/other things for your flat that are cheap and reasonable on a budget?

-Mary D.

3:19 PM  
Blogger John Overton said...

I want to travel here so bad while abroad. Sounds like your having a great time and I enjoyed reading your post.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joceline,

It sounds like you had a great time which gets me super excited my semester in Australia. I was wondering how you adapted to the lifestyle and what did you do to ease your immersion into the new culture. I am concerned of having culture shock and fear of being homesick.

Jessica F

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hello Theresa,

Haha yeah, do not underestimate culture shock! To answer your question, school feels very different from home because classes only meet once a week for about 45 minutes which at Elmhurst class would typically meet 2-3 times a week for an hour and 1/2. So there is definitely more self study required. I'm not exactly sure about schooling in Oxford but what I'm guessing the system is pretty much the same. Such as the grading is tough because here the professors straight up tell you that they usually don't give any A's out on assessments. And they don't give the grades on essays right away it usually takes four weeks or even a bit more to get feedback because the professors have to go through a whole process of grading. Hope this helped!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Mary,

So I am living on campus but I am living in one of the residential halls that is furthest from the campus but even so it typically takes me 5-10 minutes to walk to class. So for me it is easy to get to my classes. Can I ask where you would be staying at or near? And professors typically don't care if you're a bit late especially for lectures because if they're big they won't even notice. But then you might have trouble finding a seat. But for seminars its better to be there on time since there is certainly a smaller number of people. Also, when you have a class that starts at 11pm it technically means it starts at 11:05 so you have 5 extra minutes to get to the class. And then the classes usually end 5-10 minutes earlier than the given time so if you have back to back classes you shouldn't worry they give you enough time to go from class to class.

On average my class sizes are 60-120 students in lecture. For seminars which are much smaller, average size 15-20 students. I would say that yes it is easy to adjust, I mean at first it was a bit hard because like you said coming from a school with average class size being 20 students where the professor knew your name, you are able to ask questions there and then, and everyone knows one another. Here you pretty much only ask questions in seminar and you most likely won't even recognize some people in your classes since they're so big! Also like I mentioned before finding a seat can be tricky sometimes depending in the room you are in. For instance in the beginning of the semester I had a class that had more students than seats so people even had to sit on the floor! But then they moved our class to a different classroom and its a tight fit but at least everyone gets a seat now. But its not really a big deal or problem having a larger class. I think of it as a great experience of going to a university, and makes me appreciate Elmhurst's small class size even more!

Having two days of classes that is awesome! Right now I only have 3 days of class I have Wed. and friday off. And there is always something to do in London. I occupy myself by joining clubs, doing volunteering when I can, and seeing all of london that I can! Also, with the amount of readings and essay writing you have to do for some classes, you'll definitely be occupied!

They are not lying when they say that London is expensive! For me, the most convenient grocery store that is near the campus is Tesco. Tesco has many sales and cheap prices especially for milk! My second choice would be Budgens because again its near campus and it gives you a 5% student discount when you spend more than 10 pounds. I mean anywhere with discounts is great! Which reminds me there are definitely alot of places where you can get student discounts so always make sure you ask. And if you're asking about school books, for me I didn't have to buy any books for my courses which was great. And one of my favorite stores here is Primark which is super cheap (compared to other stores) where you can pretty much buy anything: clothes, shoes, home/ room supplies such as blankets and decorations and things of that sort. Its pretty much like a Burlington back home. There are three Primarks that can be found on Oxford Street I suggest going to the one near Tottenham Court Road because it is usually less crowded & more organized. Hope I helped, feel free to ask more specific questions on queen mary and don't hesitate on asking for more explanation on a topic or question you asked!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

To John,

You should, London is amazing! And thanks for reading :)

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Joceline said...

Hi Jessica,

I adapted to the lifestyle just by being aware of the social norms they have and trying my best to follow. For instance before I came I made sure I had down basic terminology they use and put into place with conversations. Example: they say cheers for thank you. So when I came I tried remembering to use the terms and now the terms come naturally to me. Ease yourself into the culture by trying new things! Try their well known dishes such as here its fish and chips. And keep in mind usually everyone goes through culture shock but there are certainly ways to having it be a minor shock.

And for the homesickness, my advise is to keep yourself busy and to remind yourself that its only temporary that you'll be home in a matter of time. Also for me when I was beginning to get a little home sick, I would look through old pictures or skype with a family member or friend for a bit. For me that was my way of preventing homesickness, hope you find something that works for you if that does happen. Also, I met some people from Australia and I heard its wonderful place, wish you the best on your study abroad there!

10:31 AM  

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