Dragon Tales from abroad: Student gears up for advice, growth and adventure

BY SAMANTHA STARK
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I got an email stating the 13th of January is my departure date. It’s the day that I will be hugging my parents, friends and the entire U.S. goodbye. As the last day breathing the frozen Midwest air sprinted closer, my excitement and nerves grew. Then on Jan. 12, when I was trying to shove my entire closet into a 4-by-2 foot suitcase, I realized I still didn’t feel like I was going to be in England in less than 24 hours. On the three-hour drive to Minneapolis, when my parents lectured me about the “buddy system” and “keeping my credit card in my bra,” I just stared out the window and thought this was it. It was the last time I would see the flat blizzard lands of Minnesota, and I finally realized that this was going to be an experience of a lifetime.

As I was heading through security with the eight other MSUM students, I looked back at my mother waving at me and taking pictures for the family I left at home. I felt this sudden knot in my chest. Then I received a text from her saying, “I am so proud of you. Tearing up here, not going to lie. I’ve changed my mind. You can’t go. You’re just a baby.” A little tear formed in the corner of my eye and ran down my cheek. I realized everyone says that going to college is when you truly break free from your parents and become an adult. I’d never felt more on my own until that plane lifted off the U.S. soil.

Back home I could call my mother anytime of the day, take a weekend trip just to see her and go out for supper when she came to Moorhead to visit. Now I only have a two-hour window to Skype due to the six-hour time change, and there is no visitation option. That knot in my chest I felt when I looked back at my mother wasn’t sadness for leaving, nor the realization that it’s too late to turn back. It was the excitement that I can finally break away and start completely new. I am finally following my dreams of traveling, learning about new cultures and experiencing living outside of the Midwest. I am going to miss everyone back home, but four months is not long. Also, in the Midwest nothing truly changes except the seasons, and even that only changes between two seasons: winter and construction.

When the plane landed in London at 9:30 a.m. (or as the Brits would say nine half), I couldn’t help but notice that everything was suddenly different.

America has hundreds of stereotypes of England: their deep history of queens and kings, large consumption of tea and crumpets and their inability to drive on the correct side of the road. Now being here for little over a week, I can’t but agree that most of them are true. Their land is covered with history: castles, cathedrals and many other must-see monuments, each with its own story.

For the tea and crumpet thing, most Brits would rather drink tea than coffee, although they enjoy alcohol above both, and I believe they eat more corn and peas then crumpets. I haven’t eaten a dish yet that doesn’t contain corn or peas. Even their Subway gives the option to put corn on your sub. In addition, we ordered a pizza just the other night, and right on top was a layer of corn.

Besides almost getting hit by a car within the first hour arriving, the whole driving on the left side of the road thing is easy to pick up on. Although it seems as if every street sign is in the shape of yield sign, probably to warn people that their streets are impossible to understand with all the roundabouts and cars going in all directions.

When I arrived at our corridors (housing), met our flat mates (roommates) and unpacked everything; it took about an hour before we got invited to go out. With the drinking age in England being 18, college students go out almost every night. Clubs and bars are always holding events and specials, and students definitely take advantage.

On the first few days attending the University of Lincoln, I couldn’t help but notice that their School of Media is incredible. They have an HD TV (or as the Brits would say telly) studio, brand new sound mixing theatre, and each student gets a Free Adobe Creative Cloud license. I am only going on to my first week of school, but so far many of the students I have met are so understanding of our American confusion. Although they lack in our cultures sarcasm, they still think we are the greatest people to walk on earth. The Brits love our American accents and make fun of our cultures horrid lingo (such as swag). Their terminology and lingo is quite different from that in America. I couldn’t help but realize their excessive use of saying “carry on,” “fancy” or “rubbish.”

Upon arrival to England I realized how different it is compared to America. Every day I learn something new and notice one more difference. I have only been in England for little over a week, and I already learned enough to last a lifetime. I can’t even imagine what I will learn in 16 weeks. So, carry on there in the U.S., I will just be drinking my tea and enjoying the scenery here in England.

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