8 Things You Learn From Staying in London

1. There is no such thing as personal space.

A thing I noticed while in London is that people don’t really have their own space bubble. Most places you go such as the tube you will be crammed close to people not caring about your personal space.

2. Beauty is everywhere.

Literally everywhere you look there is beauty. Whether it be a park or a part of history, every single thing in London is beautiful. 

4. Restaurants work a bit different.

Almost every restaurant we went to while in London had a bar inside it. Now we didn’t know at first but quickly found out that you order not only drinks from the bars but also your meals. You go up to the bar and order and pay for your food there and then they bring it out to your table. I think this is a cool way but personally I like being lazy and having the waiter/waitress come to me. 

5. People get drinks after work.

One thing I loved about the London social scene was that people go out with friends to grab a drink after work. People will be outside all pubs enjoying a beer almost everyday around the 5pm. I think we should bring this norm to America personally. 

6. It’s more expensive.

London is a very expensive town and we knew this before going but it really doesn’t hit until your paying $14 American dollars for a meal that seems cheap in pounds. The conversion rates reall get ya. But honestly every extra dollar is worth it because I mean you’re in London! 

7. Water.

Water is very different in the UK. A popular thing is sparkling water. At restaurants you have to ask specifically for tap or still water if you want it, and most of the time they will look at you like you’re crazy. Also if you want ice be sure to ask for it because most places don’t give you ice in your water!

8.  Museums and Churches.

In London it’s kind of funny because you pay to see the churches but most museums are free to enter. That’s almost completely opposite from America. However, paying entry for those churches are 100% worth it. 

Although many of these things are different, they are all the small parts that add to your trip. London was amazing and I can’t wait to go back! 

Halfway Done

For the last week, I have been talking with fellow exchange students that are finishing their time abroad. I am not the only one in my group who will be here for a second semester, but we are definitely the minority. They are all sad to be leaving, but excited about going home. I find myself experiencing a second wave of homesickness at the reality that I will not be home for a while longer. I am lucky in that my family will be able to visit me here in Ireland for Christmas, but still I miss my friends, my dog. I miss my bed, and my favorite restaurants. Simultaneously, I am glad that I have more time here. As much exploring as I’ve done, I still have not seen everything in Ireland I want to see. Of course, time and money limit how much I can do in so little time. But I will renew my efforts next semester. I have gotten to know a lot of people on campus, but was not able to meet many people beyond that – partially due to my campus location. Again, I will focus on getting off campus more next semester. I feel that I have a much better understanding of Irish culture now, but there is definitely more to learn.

Personally, this experience has been amazing. I have been experiencing the firsts of living on my own and of living in another country. Beginning with the application process and now being here – I am confident in my own ability to plan and execute whatever I want to happen. It has also fascinating to learn more about the US from a foreign perspective. That combined with the knowledge I have gained of Irish government has given me a lot to think about regarding my own government.

My advice for students studying abroad would be to plan as well as you can (especially before you go) and not to panic when those plans get thrown out the window. Part of the experience is going with the flow and you will have an amazing experience regardless. Be as social as you can. Ask lots of questions and be ready to answer them yourself.

As I mentioned in my introduction, the careers I am considering (Sociological Researcher and Cultural Anthropologist) both require the ability to recognize and understand culture. This practical experience will be an incredible benefit. I have experience living and traveling alone. I have been exposed to many ideas and opinions that I would not have encountered in America. Because of study abroad I am more confident, more understanding and overall more well-rounded. I cannot wait to find out what else is in store for my second semester of study abroad.

-Evie, United Kingdom

Sep 23 2016 - Rope Bridge.jpg
From my first trip to the most beautiful places in NI, Carrick-a-Rede.

Helping (the Irish)man’s Best Friend

I have always been a dog person. My family has had dogs since I was little. I love spending time with my dogs and this past summer I began volunteering to walk dogs at the Emporia Animal Shelter with my dad. When I saw on Facebook that a local dog rescue was looking for volunteers, I felt it would be a perfect way to spend some of my free time and get to know people off campus. At home, I also volunteered for 4-H, The Famers Market and the Emporia Public Library and I loved the sense of community connection it gives.

The Causeway Coast Dog Rescue is exactly what it says in the name. They home and care for pets that have been abandoned, are in overcrowded pounds or whose owners can no longer care for them. It is a non-profit organization that depends on volunteers to run successfully. There are many organizations with the same goal in the US and CCDR runs in much the same way that they do. The biggest difference I have noticed is that charities here have shops, usually set up in buildings that are for rent. The shops sell items donated by supporters of the charity, and all profits go to the charity. The selection is similar to what you would find in a Goodwill in the US. Used (and occasionally new) clothes, shoes, books, toys and so on. CCDR has a few other fundraisers including quiz nights and raffles as well as the donations.

I am currently in the middle of the interview process for becoming a dog walker. CCDR has a through application and interview process for volunteers. I am very excited to begin work with them and have an impact in my new community.

-Evie, United Kingdom

Check out their website!

What it means to be Irish

Irish culture, like most culture, is complicated. With the political turmoil of Troubles in the very recent past, most Irish people themselves have different ideas about what it means to be Irish. The regional differences are very distinct, as they are in America. However, as I have gotten to know the area, there are some things that I have found to be common, regardless of if I am in the North, South, East, or West.

The Irish really appreciate three things: Good music, good sport and a good drink. From Traditional Irish (“Trad”) music to the latest pop hits – the Irish love music, including playing it, listening to it, and dancing to it. Everywhere in Ireland, but especially at my university, sport of all kinds is greatly encouraged. Even if you don’t play one, you most certainly have a favorite sport/team you watch and cheer for. Drinking is also a very big part of the culture here. Ireland, like most countries aside from the US, has a legal drinking age of 18 (16 in certain circumstances). Going out for a pint is a national pastime. Of course, all these things are enjoyed to a certain extent in the US and other countries as well – but the Irish regard is unlike anything else I have experienced. I would say that these things, except possibly the love for sport, are different from my culture at home.

The hardest part of Irish culture (and history) to understand is the political and religious aspects of it. It is very complicated, and the current period of peace started almost exactly around the time I was born. This means that my peers are the first generation in Ireland that don’t remember (except maybe a few specific memories) the Troubles. There was a lot of violence and uncertainty and it’s after effects can still be felt in the general political discourse. Politics are a very important subject that is also very personal and deeply tied with religion. I believe from what I have witnessed that the general population (perhaps because of the Troubles) is more engaged in politics than the population in America. In their most recent election they had 65% voter turnout, which was actually down from 70% the election before. In our recent presidential election, it’s estimated that only 57% voted.

The biggest adjustment by far has been the approach to higher education. The entire format of classes and the standards of performance are very different from what I experienced at ESU. I am now finishing my first semester of university here and I am still trying to figure out exactly what causes it to be so different.

When considering the Iceberg Theory of Culture, I have come to a few conclusions. They are hearty people who do not turn away from challenging subjects or situations. They are very kind people, but they would never describe themselves that way. They value their own comfort and that of their guests. They value family above most everything else (university students actually go home to their families every weekend – the polar opposite of American college students). I am glad to have this chance to know them.

-Evie, United Kingdom

Found at a Waterstones Bookstore in Belfast. Not true in my experience but does reference the image they project.

Being an American in Northern Ireland

I knew before I came here that Americans do not have the best reputation abroad because of what I have seen online and what I have heard from fellow travelers. In some instances it is simply negative stereotypes and in others it is due to more legitimate, political reasons. In most cases, even the stereotypes have some base in fact. During my brief international travelling experience in 2012 I noticed a few things about American travelers in general that I still see when travelling now:

  • They are louder than other tourists (especially in groups)
  • They are often easily identified by their clothing
  • They come off as insensitive (do not attempt correct pronunciations of names, locations and so on)
  • They are unaware of the culture around them (travelling across the world to eat at a McDonalds)

When I talked to my fellow students about this they agreed. They are, of course, aware that they are stereotypes and therefore not 100% true, but they come to mind none the less.

I have found that in general, the Irish are very friendly and welcoming to Americans. The few negative experiences that I have had (and have heard about from my fellow Americans abroad) have been with older generations. Many Irish have mentioned the large amount of American media they see on a regular basis, I believe that is where most of their ideas about America comes from and why the younger generations are more accepting.

Being here during an election year has meant that the US has been featured on almost all news in Northern Ireland. For the 2 weeks before and after the election, when people heard my accent, I was asked for my opinion on it. People would then tell me what they thought – everyone had an opinion. I think that the US election was covered almost as much here as it was back home.

When living and travelling I make an effort to be quiet and respectful. To be aware of the situation. I do not want to fulfil the stereotype of a typical American abroad.

Evie, United Kingdom

Seen in Derry Londonderry on my second week in N. Ireland.

Getting Involved at UOR

The University of Roehampton is a wonderful school to attend if you want to get involved. There are a ton of different societies for every interest and everyone who is involved in these societies is extremely welcoming to new students. One of the very first weeks of school I attended the Freshers Fair and this is very similar to Emporia’s Huge Activities Fair. Basically I walked around the campus grounds and looked at tons of different booths with all of the different societies and listened to the leaders of these organizations tell me about what they were about. After a long morning I decided that I wanted to get involved with three different, but very similar, groups. These groups were the Roehampton Student Union (RSU), Southlands College, and the Anthropology course.

I’m mostly going to go into detail about the RSU and Southlands college, but they were both extremely fun and it was a great way to meet new people. Both of these organizations plan events for the school, but the Southlands college is more narrow on who the events are for. Those events are just for the students who live in Southlands college. Some of the events that have been planned were a Harry Potter quiz, 80’s bop, and Halloween movie marathon. I am very passionate about this cause because I really like being able to help with events that students will enjoy. I also really enjoyed these groups because they were really similar to groups that we have in the United States and the people involved in the groups were extremely welcoming and I never felt like an outsider.

I think that I impacted my host culture with these groups because I was able to discuss American culture with the people in these groups. I was also able to talk to people from many different areas of England and the world and this was beneficial for me as well. The result of being in these groups was that I was able to learn more about other cultures, teach others about my culture, and help organize events for many students.

Until next time!

-Hannah, United Kingdom


UCLAN: student union

tea time with jen.

During my first week at the University of Central Lancashire, I went to welcome week for clubs and numerous job fairs, but since I was only going to be here for four short months there were very limited options. Either they didn’t start until January or they were over by the end of September. However, I did spend a great deal of time with the Student Union here at UCLAN and involve myself in the many opportunities.

This organization focuses on exchange students and allows them to meet each other through social settings and planned day trips. I connected with this organization right off the bat, because of how many people I was able to meet. I met some of my closest friends and travel buddies on some of the first trips we took. Most of us all want to travel a lot and this helped mix all of us…

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Understanding “Londoners”

If I could use one word to describe the culture here it would be distant. Now I don’t mean distant in a bad way at all, but the people in London are really in their own little world. Strangers don’t speak to each other on the street or in the tube unless it’s to apologize for running in to one another. And everyone always seems like they have a purpose when they are walking around here. A couple of weeks in I thought I had mastered the art of “walking with a purpose” but it’s still a little difficult to do this all the time.

I think that a few of the things that are very different about England and America are the way that we eat and the way that we present ourselves in a new situation. I spoke in my last blog about how Americans are perceived as loud and rude, but I think this is just because people in England are taught to be more reserved when they are young. This difference can definitely make Americans seem more outspoken and boisterous at first glance. I am a fairly reserved person, so it hasn’t been difficult for me to adapt to this part of the culture. I also think the way we eat is very different from people in England. In England, you almost always use a knife and fork during your meals no matter what the food is. This is something that I have had to adjust to because I am only used to eating this “proper” during a significant meal and not everyday. I’m not saying that we are taught bad manners in America, but my manners have definitely improved in England.

Some of the cultural aspects that I find similar in England and America are the ways that college students interact with each other. Everyone here on campus is extremely friendly. Everyone was very welcoming and willing to answer any questions that I may have had. This reminds me a lot of the ways that people interact at Emporia. This was extremely helpful when I first started at this university, because it can be difficult to transition to a new school.

I think that when I am trying to make sense of these different aspects of culture in England, I can see that they are very concerned with their initial appearance to other. Englanders definitely want to come off as proper people. They want to look like they have everything put together and I know that this is not always the case, but it is definitely the way that people look.

I am going to use the iceberg theory of culture to describe the incidents that I was talking about earlier in this post about tube rides and how no one talks to each other. I observed these behaviors by just riding on the tube and noticing that most people look down at the floor or have their headphones in during their commutes. I think that what I can interpret from these actions is that people just want to have their own time and not have to worry about others around them. I also think that one of their core values is personal space and time. For some people, the tube ride is the only time they have to themselves so they don’t want to spend that time interacting with others around them. This makes a lot of sense if people are parents with lots of kids or if they just have a busy workday. I can totally understand why people need their alone time.

Until next time!

-Hannah, United Kingdom

“You’re just like Dorothy!”

I am so lucky to be at this university, because they do a great job of mixing international and local students. I have made so many friends from all over the world and I wouldn’t want to trade this experience for anything. For this post, I “interviewed” two of my really good friends who are from different parts of England about what they thought about Americans and it was very eye-opening to what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S.A.

Before coming to London, I was very happy to be an American and I was very grateful for the life that I lived. I’m still very happy to be American, but I think I have a different view on what that means now. When I thought about how the rest of the world viewed us I thought that they hated us, and that is sometimes true but not completely true. I knew that everyone would imagine the Wizard of Oz when I told them I was from Kansas and if I had a dollar for every time someone told me I wasn’t in Kansas anymore I would be rich. It’s interesting to know that people around the world know your state for something extremely specific, but it also gets a little old.

Two of my best friends from this university are from very different parts of England; one is from Leeds in the north and the other is from Essex which is near the south. They have their rivalries, but they get along with each other because they are both from England. I talked to them briefly about what their perceptions of Americans were before they met me and other Americans and their answers were brutally honest. They told me how Americans were kind of this “alien- concept” because neither of them had met an American before, but that while they were out of this world they also weren’t that great. They told me they thought of Americans as white, racist, church-goers who were chubby, rude, and idiotic. I was quite shocked that they gave me such blunt answers, but I was also really grateful for their honest. It really made me want to change their opinion of Americans (and I really hope that I have changed it a bit).

I asked them where these perceptions of Americans came from and they said that it was mostly from television and the media. However, they also said that they see Americans who are strangers on the street and they also give off a rude vibe.  I can understand why they get this vibe from some people, because it is true that this is how the media can portray us sometimes but it is also sad because I don’t want my friends to think that all Americans are like that.

Some stereotypes that I think people in England have for Americans is that they are loud, rude, and stupid. Once again, I think they get these stereotypes from what they see on social media with celebrities and then they generalize this for the entire United States. All that I can hope is that I can change the mind of my friends to think much better of Americans after they have spent time with some real people.

-Hannah, United Kingdom


a look inside: preston, england

tea time with jen.

Preston. Preston is a small city in northern England. It is hard to explain to others, because it is not as well known like London or Manchester. To me, it is a University centered place full of students and young people. It is a place where I never fear my safety and a place where everything and I mean everything closes before 6pm. Which means grocery shopping happens in the morning or afternoon. It is also a place where I feel comfortable. A place where I can easily meet new people every day and a place I love.

I haven’t experienced many major culture shocks like I thought I would in my time here, but here is a list of things that I’ve noticed.

  • walking. the amount of walking people do here is absolutely mad (notice the slang). Not many students have cars, because it is just easier to walk everywhere…

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