Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Summer and Dre in Plymouth!

Cheers from Plymouth, England!

Hello everyone. I’m Summer, and I’m studying at Plymouth University with my feisty dragon friend. He goes by Dre (as in Dr.), because his birth name, Draco, was a bit too common for his liking. 

Dr. Dre enjoying some world-famous Plymouth gin

Plymouth is a coastal port city in the south west of England. It might sound familiar to you because it’s the city the Pilgrims left from on the Mayflower (that’s why they named their landing place Plymouth Rock). The city was heavily bombed during the Blitz, destroying many of the historical buildings. Thus, a lot of the architecture in Plymouth has a modern feel, although there are still some beautiful historical gems tucked in between.

Dre and I love Plymouth, because everything is very centrally located. We walk everywhere. We have yet to ride a bus around the city, actually. The big mall in Plymouth, Drake’s Circus, is literally a two-minute walk from our dorm, as is the city centre and all of its shopping. That is both a helpful and dangerous thing, my friends. 

Smeaton's Tower, overlooking Plymouth Sound
The university holds 33,000 students, making it much larger than UNCG. The campus is about half the size of Greensboro’s, however-- Dre and I can leave our ‘off-campus’ dorm at 8:56 and be at a lecture on the other side of campus by 9! I am only taking three classes (called “modules”) here: Understanding Children’s Development, Equality, Diversity, and Anti-Discrimination, and Heritage and Public History. Our courses are taken with first-years (“freshers”), and I get really annoyed when they do not stop talking during lectures. None of my courses have exams, and each has a maximum of three graded assignments, so it’s a very different system than at home. It provides me with a large amount of free time, which is surprisingly hard to get used to!

Dre is a bit of a party animal, but even he can’t keep up with the amount of nightlife here in Plymouth. There are three bars directly outside of our dorm window, and the flats above and below ours go out EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. I will wake up at 6 am some mornings to the sound of people STILL partying outside. The British know how to have a good time, y’all. Since the drinking age is 18, the university offers alcohol at almost every on-campus event. The student union has three bars of its own, and it turns into an actual nightclub on the weekends.

The best part about Plymouth, for both Dre and I, happens to be the INCREDIBLE international friends we have made. I came to study abroad thinking that I would make a bunch of really close British friends. I have met some nice people from England, but the majority of my friends are from other countries. Some of my closest buds are from China, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Canada. There are a lot of Americans studying at Plymouth, so I’ve made besties out of some girls from New Mexico, Georgia, and Tennessee. One of my flatmates, Cori Cauthen, is also from the Honors College at UNCG. She’s my lifesaver, confidant, and grocery-shopping companion, and I am so thankful to have her here.

My amazing and wonderful international family


Plymouth is a lot of fun, but Dre and I have one big goal during our time here, and that is to TRAVEL. We are heading to Portsmouth for a day trip tomorrow, followed by a giant group trip to AMSTERDAM this weekend with our international friends! Dre and I have already traveled to Oxford, Bath, Bristol, London, Newquay, and Exeter. 

Oxford University
Exeter Cathedral

Pulteney Bridge, Bath

We are planning trips to Dublin, Ireland, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Cardiff, Wales. We have almost an entire month off for Easter break. My mom and grandma are coming up to London for the first five days of break. I am SO excited to see them. After they leave, Cori and I are planning a trip around Europe. So many places, so little time!

A few of the interesting things about England:
·      -When you meet someone, they ask you “Alright?” instead of saying “Hello.”
·      -If you order pancakes here, you will receive crepes.
·      -Milkshakes here are the consistency of… milk. I miss Cookout.
·      -The British have many stereotypes of Americans. I am constantly being asked about our obesity epidemic and police brutality. These are real problems, folks, and the rest of the world sees them.
·      -The police here wear super cool uniforms and are SO friendly. None of them carry guns, and pepper spray is illegal here.
·      -Few people drive. Most take public transportation.
·      -A traditional English breakfast includes eggs, fried bread or toast, Heinz beans, hash browns, back bacon, tomatoes or mushrooms, and black pudding. Black pudding is sausage made of pig’s blood. Don’t. Eat. It.
·      -There is so much history in England. The oldest church in Plymouth dates back to the year 1000. Francis Drake went there. I REPEAT: FRANCIS DRAKE.
·      -It hails almost every time it rains. I wonder if it hails simply to embarrass and confuse foreigners. I wonder this, because the first time it started hailing, I very verbally- and publically- freaked out, sparking much laughter from the British people around me. I didn’t realize that hail was so…common here.
·      -Everything is very expensive in England. This is a very sad realization. Every time I do laundry here, it costs me about ten American dollars. Cue solemn head shaking.  

All in all, Dre and I are loving this experience. Each challenge and accomplishment makes a new memory. If you’re thinking about studying abroad and don’t know where you’d like to go, I recommend England. Trust me. It’s wonderful. I have yet to find someone who disagrees.

Cliche, yet necessary, telephone booth picture

Summer Drum and Dr. Dre the Dragon
Plymouth University

P.S. Want to find out more about my travels abroad? Check out my personal blog and read some more!

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