An American in England: Dealing With The Differences

I remember writing pessimistically at eighteen about the things I had yet to accomplish and how I never saw myself reaching the day I would. I was overwhelmed by my decision of attending college in the fall. I felt that college was a pause and not a stepping stone to a brilliant future. I thought about all of the people I read biographies and memoirs on and compared my life at eighteen to theirs. I wasn’t a struggling artist or someone’s muse. I wasn’t moving across the country in the name of rebellion or forming a band. I was just doing what was expected after graduating high school. I had other ideas, though. I dreamt of traveling the world; I wanted to meet the rats of New York, have a drink in an English pub, run down the streets of Spain, and lead an extraordinary life full of creativity and travel. I wanted to live a life worth writing about. Though at the time I felt that college was getting in the way, it was actually granting me opportunities. Thanks to college, I’m studying abroad today. Writing to you from London, England. My home for the school year.

I decided to study abroad the spring of my freshman year. I sat in my dorm with my friends one night and I mentioned that I wanted to go on holiday and do something different with my life for awhile, but I couldn’t because school postponed my plans until graduation. My friends suggested I look into study abroad. I grabbed my laptop and started scrolling through the programs USAC offered to students. I saw that England was one of the options. It was then I decided that studying abroad was going to happen. I told them it was meant to be. I chose England because I had always been fascinated by our common language, but vast difference in culture. Also, The Beatles (my favorite band) were from England. There were four options in England, but I chose London. I figured it I was going to do this thing, I had to do right and go to the city where things happen. I couldn’t wait to join the London groove.

This “London groove” has been harder to join than I expected. I underestimated the differences and thought I was going to have the confidence I have in the states, in England. The United States and England share the same language, but share nothing else. Coming here for school, I was aware of the grading differences, but I figured the rest was nothing to be thrown off by. Since freshman year, I have studied in Reno and have gotten to understand how UNR runs its campus. Studying abroad is like being a college freshman again. You have to learn a whole new routine, understand a new campus, meet different people, and ask basic questions all over again. Below are the differences and similarities I’ve noted between London Metropolitan University and the University of Nevada, Reno.

  1. The Look: Reno has given UNR its own area in the city and because of the strip of buildings and dorms, UNR is a community and Reno has become a college town. London Met is just a few buildings tucked between the streets of London. Barely squeezing it. I can’t blame them, though. This can be seen in other major cities in the world like New York and San Francisco. Universities become buildings that blend with the rest of the city’s landscape.
  2. Class Locations: At London Met, we don’t really have college specific buildings. We have one main building where all classes take place. It’s a large and confusing building, but everything can be found! I’ve been enrolled for a month now, but I still have trouble finding my English class in the mornings.
  3. Class Times: Your class is only once a week and three hours long. I have one class a day, but for three hours that consists of lecture, break, and exercises or more discussion. Though it sounds terrible compared to our fifty minute lectures, it’s not too bad if you have a passionate instructor/professor who engages the class.
  4. The Professors: After some misleading research online, I thought my professors and instructors were going to be dismissive and unwilling to help. Fortunately, my professors/instructors are kind and willing to help. Like UNR, they encourage you to visit them during their office hours. I’ve only spotted two major differences: they’re much quieter and a bit more reserved.
  5. Workload and Expectations: Weekly quizzes and assignments aren’t really a thing at London Metropolitan. If we do have an assignment, it’s mostly just for practice and we have a week to do it. It sounds easy and peaceful, but it’s actually more arduous than it seems. Reading is critical and required. You must read a great amount of texts per week and per class. Though you’re not being tested on them at the moment, your final projects (where your final grade really comes from) will reflect how much you studied throughout the semester. Like UNR, accountability is key if you want good grades. Both universities have high expectations for their students.
  6. School Spirit: I think massive school pride is an American thing. We don’t have mascots, fall football games, and or students running around in London Met gear. I kinda miss the wolf pack pride.
  7. Resources: People walk or take the tube, so there aren’t things like the silver or blue line. If you need to go to the London Met Moorgate campus and you live the north campus, you have to take the tube. London Met does have a library, counseling, a student union, and advice centers.
  8. The Food: Since UNR is its own little community, we have places to grab food on campus. At London Met, I’m only aware of two or three different areas that serve food. It’s mostly cold food like sandwiches, warm pastries, tea and coffee, and crisps (chips), though. Because the campus is located on a busy road, there are many restaurants you could easily access by stepping outside.