LEAVING & ARRIVING
Moving abroad is a huge rush of mixed emotions: excitement, fear, anxiety, joy, worry, and feelings unable to even be pinpointed. While Elon does as much as possible to prepare students, nothing prepares you to fully realize – yes, I’m actually doing this. For me, reality didn’t really set in until I was doing everything at home in Texas for the “last time”. Much too soon, it was time to say goodbye to my friends and family. I’d like to give another huge thank you to my parents for always supporting me and encouraging me to attend Elon and take advantage of this experience at St. Clare’s!
Once I was dropped off at the airport and finally on the plane, most of my anxiety was wiped away. During my flight, I took time to journal, set goals, and focus on the adventure I had embarked upon. After a long day of traveling, I finally arrived at London Heathrow at 6:45am local time (what a crazy airport!) I observed little differences like signs for “toilets” and “lifts” as I maneuvered my way through customs and over to a different terminal where I met my friend Allie.
My arrival day was exactly as you’d expect from England: foggy, cold, and rainy, but also quite lovely. A St. Clare’s driver fetched us from Terminal 3 and one hour later, we had arrived!
As you can see above, Oxford is a quaint town that is already starting to feel like home. I am very proud to say that I am mastering public transportation (although I do miss my little car). One of my favorite parts about St. Clare’s is that it is not exactly a “campus”. Instead, St. Clare’s buildings are mixed into the community. As a result, I find myself having to really explore the area and get more of a bearing. Even walks (or bus rides) to class are exciting!
MEETING NEW PEOPLE
This is probably what I was both most nervous and most excited for. Thankfully, all of the St. Clare’s students are friendly and seem very open to meeting new people and making new friends. I am matched up with a German roommate, Tatjana, whom I adore. This has made connecting to the international community here much easier. Besides Germany, I have met people from Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, and many others! While there are no British students at my school, the professors at St. Clare’s, the Oxford community, and my school placement offer lots of opportunities to learn more about my new home.
St. Clare’s offers various programming to help us adjust to life here and get to know our peers. Since they offer 3 programs (Liberal Arts, English Language plus subjects, and English Language) they make an effort to intermix the groups as much as possible. This first week, I have enjoyed a walking tour of Oxford, a Welcome Dinner at Oxford University’s Trinity College, a London day trip, and a trip to a London Theatre with my Shakespeare class! These have all been great opportunities to make friends and get to know my cities.
Additionally, this Saturday I took advantage of the first day trip opportunity – a free trip to London! London has so much to offer and I have only just touched the surface. Check out my favorite pictures that I took below.
One of the trickiest parts of settling in has been learning how to manage my time. My classes here will be both challenging and rewarding. Several are taught by professors who also teach at Oxford University! I am enrolled in 4 courses: Comparative Education, Shakespeare Survey, Sociology of Crime and Deviance, and Foundations of Educational Psychology. Additionally, I am interning at Cherwell School each Tuesday where I am paired up with English Language Learners. I sit next to these students in class to assist with their English and help facilitate their learning.
During the week, I hope to get into the swing of things and achieve a good balance between classwork, my school placement, social life, errands, and me time! This will be absolutely necessary because on the weekends, I want to travel! Some weekends will be spent further exploring the UK, but I am also currently planning several trips.
Even though England is an English speaking country, moving so far away is still a constant adjustment to “little differences”. Step 1 – the time change. I am 5 hours different than North Carolina and 6 different from Texas! This has required some adjustment both for my body clock, and for my communication back home. So far, I am doing quite well and have finally recovered from my jet-lag.
Little language differences are also quite apparent but also fun for me to dissect (why is aluminum pronounced AL-OO-MIN-IUM?!) Even trips to the grocery store are a new adventure. Newsflash: they don’t bag your groceries and checkout aisles are called “tills”. Don’t even get me started on trying to keep track of dollars, pounds, and euros.
Most of all, I am looking forward to studying the little differences between American schools and British schools. Several of my classes will discuss this within a classroom setting. It is so cool to go out and observe things in the “real world”! Some of my final projects will also center on comparing education systems.
I can’t believe that I have only been in England for one week! Life has already been so full of new friends, new food, new classes, and new adventures.