The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Across the Pond

Settling into my new life as a Brit
Photo by Maggie O’Brien
Across the Pond visual made by Maggie O’Brien.

I’ve wanted to study abroad since I found out my mom studied in London when she was 19.

I grew up playing exclusively British Monopoly and hearing stories about my mom and her study abroad roommate’s antics.

That trip changed her life, and I was ready for something that would change mine.

Or expand my horizons, at least. I know living in the United States and especially growing up in a conservative midwestern town, my worldview could stand to be widened.

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I’ve been out of the country a few times before. The first time was to Germany with my family when I was nine, and the other time was a high school Spanish trip to Guatemala and Belize.

My trip to Germany consisted of me and three of my family members: my mom, my dad and Puff the stuffed dog (named after my favorite childhood snack). (Photo by Kyra Price)

Both were amazing and I’d love to go back to any of those places, but at 21 years old, I was ready for a new challenge.

I had a choice between studying in Winchester, which is close to London, or Harlaxton, which is much farther north, and I chose Winchester.

Despite the six-week-long orientation class all study abroad students at UW-Eau Claire take, I went into this trip pretty blind, which I didn’t realize until the plane touched down in London.

I realized I’d never seen a British pound before, I had no idea what my class schedule — or “timetable” as they call it — looked like and I had no information on who my roommates were or when they’d get back to school.

I didn’t even know how to turn on the thermostat in my dorm room and woke up shivering at 3 a.m. the first night.

Except for two broken hours of sleep on the plane and a 20-minute nap sitting up on the bus from Heathrow Airport to the University of Winchester, I was up for about 36 hours.

After arriving at Winchester, I had to drag 100 pounds of luggage down six flights of stairs and then opened my dorm room door to be welcomed by a room that looked like I was involuntarily admitted to it.

My flat is made up of a hallway with six dorm rooms with a common room at the end of the hall. None of my roommates were there, so I took to attempting to guess the residents based on the common room decor.

There was a children’s behavioral chart with names on it hung in the kitchen, as well as a massive American flag and a dinosaur balloon.

I befriended some other UW-Eau Claire students from the trip pretty quickly, and it was nice to have people to go grocery shopping and get dinner with right away because I was starving and my sense of direction could stand to be improved.

After a couple of days, my roommates started coming back and I was happy to discover they were great and they went out of their way to make me feel welcome.

My two goals for this trip were to get as involved in school as possible and to travel as much as possible.

After only three weeks, I feel pretty accomplished with the first goal. I met some nice girls while grabbing coffee, and it turned out one was on the board for the yoga club. I had been specifically looking for a yoga group, and I asked to join.

She invited me to what is essentially a school-approved party run weekly by the Student Union called BOP. I made friends with all the girls at the pregame and was even invited to the pre-pregame the next week.

Befriending British students has made this trip for me. I’ve already gotten close with two girls from the yoga club, and having people to get coffee, shop, walk to class and study with makes me feel so at home.

I’ve done a little bit of traveling already. I’ve taken a few trips about 15 minutes away to Southampton, and I took a day trip to London to do the touristy things with other students from Eau Claire. 

We couldn’t leave London without a trip to Big Ben. (Photo by Kyra Price)

We have something called “reading week” here which is a week off given to students to catch up on work. I’m using this week for travel, and by the time this article is published, I’ll be exploring Scotland.

An old friend I haven’t seen since high school who now lives in England reached out and offered me a concert ticket to see The 1975 in London.

I will never turn down a concert, especially not when the ticket is free.
(Photo by Kyra Price)

I’ll be spending the first few days of reading week with her, then I’m braving the train and the London Underground alone to meet up with my Eau Claire friends in Edinburgh.

I have an ever-lengthening list of countries I need to make it to before I go back home. The top two are Greece and Italy, which I hope to visit over my almost three-week-long spring break.

Others high on the list are Prague, Spain, Austria (specifically Vienna) and France, but I will go anywhere I can fit into my itinerary.

Classes here are more rigorous than I’m used to. I’m in four classes that are two or three hours each, and I do 10 hours of class compressed into three days.

I’m double majoring, and public health isn’t a major here, so choosing classes that fill the credits I need has been difficult.

I won’t know exactly how my credits will transfer until I’m back in the United States, but the four classes I’ve chosen have been really interesting, and I can petition for those credits to cover specific UW-Eau Claire credits.

The workload is a lot different. I have no assignments outside of class and no quizzes or exams, but I’ll have a huge, all-encompassing final assignment for each class that I need to work on throughout the semester.

I miss my cat, my parents and my friends a lot, but I’ve been settling in happily and I can’t wait for more adventures!

Price can be reached at [email protected].

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