I was both excited and nervous to arrive in Manchester, England because although this was a great opportunity, this was also a big step into the unknown. Not only would this be my first time flying in an airplane in years but I would also have to learn how to navigate living in another country. Despite some of my worries I had a smooth transition into life in England and that is partly due to meeting two other American students who would soon become my fellow traveling buddies. Together we explored Manchester's City Centre and enjoyed our first meal abroad at a restaurant in the Piccadilly Gardens.
As we got settled into our new environment, my new friends and I began to create our own traditions. Every Wednesday after class we visited a new restaurant and had afternoon tea. I had no idea that there were so many different types of tea or how extensive the selection of cakes, sandwiches and sweets that accompany your tea can get. We also began a quest to find the best burger in Manchester/England. So after going to multiple restaurants my personal choice of the best burger is the GBK burger at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Bath.
There were quite a few things that I had to get used to while in Manchester. One of those things was the weather. It rains a lot in Manchester. On any given week you can pretty much guarantee that it will rain at some point and it's always a good idea to have an umbrella handy. I'm used to driving everywhere but in Manchester it is very common to take the bus or walk. I didn't mind this too much especially since everything you need is nearby and students get bus passes. Another aspect of the culture that I became accustomed to were accents and common phrases/greetings. I quickly learned that although someone might be speaking English their accent can be so thick that you don't know what they are saying. In America, we usually ask someone "How are you?" but in England people ask "Are you alright?" At first I thought that maybe I looked sad or upset so people were asking because they were concerned but it turns out that that is just their way of greeting someone. Some other words that I heard include: marks (grades), cheers (thank you), jumper (sweater), car park (parking lot), and hoovering (vacuuming).
|The London Eye at night|
I explored different parts of England and also traveled to Wales, Scotland and Spain. My favorite places that I visited were York and London in England, and Madrid and Toledo in Spain. In York, I climbed the ruins of a castle (Clifford's Tower) and tried fudge in one of the many dessert shops. I spent one weekend in London with some other UNCG students and it was great to see major attractions like Big Ben and the London Eye both in the day and night. It was even more memorable because we got to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and ate traditional fish and chips (which are really good by the way!). Spain was so beautiful and it was definitely an adventure learning how to get around using the metro. I also visited Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Bath, Chester and Oxford, all located in England.
I learned a lot from studying abroad not only about English culture but about myself. Some advice I would give to those who are going to study abroad is to 1) embrace ambiguity. This was advice given to me and it helps to go into this experience with an open mind because things can, and at some point, will not go the way you expected or planned them to. 2) Be adventurous and try new things. I told myself that I would try foods that I would not typically order every time I went out to eat and it paid off! Having this mentality led me to try foods like pistachio cake, Mississippi mud pie, crumpets and scones with clotted cream. 3) Stay true to yourself. I am a thrift shopper at heart so I made sure to do a little shopping at thrift stores around Manchester. Going to church and being involved in my church community are big parts of my life so finding a local church to attend while abroad was very important to me. Through church I made lifelong friends and they were kind enough to take me to the Peak District (a national park in England) for the day. Ultimately make your study abroad experience your own and do things that are meaningful to you!
|Albert Dock, Liverpool|
Manchester Metropolitan University