Name: Arielle Silverman
Major: Family and Human Services
Hometown: Westfield, New Jersey
Destination: London, England
Institution: GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, Kingston University.
Q1: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?
Honestly, this is a tough question to answer. I am a food ADDICT, so eating was one of my favorite activities while I was abroad. By the way, I studied in England. Did everyone’s mouths just drop all the way to their keyboards after reading how much I enjoyed eating in the UK? Before I left, everyone I encountered warned me about how awful the food in England was, so the days leading up to my trip I was convinced that I was going to starve to death. Contrary to popular belief, England does have some noteworthy foods (at least in my opinion).
Alright, best dish. HOW CAN I PICK?! I’ll narrow it down to four things: Indian food, kebabs, Nando’s, and chips (fries). I’d go into excessive detail explaining each and every one, but I think people would rather not read three pages of my food obsession…(maybe I’ll expand on my own blog).
Now for the worst- I don’t know if I can pick one, mostly because there are so many English foods that are just repulsive looking and are probably what you’d think of when you hear someone mention England.
Q2: What was your favorite spot in your home away from home? Why?
London is so wonderful that I can think of hundreds of favorite spots, but I do have a couple that will always stick out in my mind. I went to a university in a town called Kingston Upon Thames, which is 20 minutes outside of central London by train. The town was absolutely adorable. There were stores, restaurants, and pubs, and it was the type of town that had sections of just pedestrian walkways, which usually meant there were always a lot of different street performers or people playing music or singing. To top it off, there was a market in one part of town that was set up every day, and walking by you could always hear vendors yelling things like, “Get your strawberries!” or “Fresh avocados for only a pound!” I always felt like I was in a movie or something, strolling down those streets and taking it all in: the sights, the people, the voices, and the smells. I didn’t want to forget any of it.
Besides the town in general being one of my favorite places, there was another spot that to this day, will always have a place in my mind. It was a pub in Kingston called The Kings Tun. I was only in Kingston for a day before my friends and I found it, thanks to our waitress at TGI Fridays. My friends and I spent many hours there over the course of our time abroad. It was a place where we all got to know each other, met other people, bonded, danced, and made memories. And as corny as it is, it’s definitely one of my favorite places.
Q4: Are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?
PIGEONS. Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons. When I decided upon living near London, I had no idea that I was signing up for being swarmed with those evil little creatures on a daily basis. The thing about pigeons is that they’re scared of nothing. Sure, they’ll run away if you chase them, but they are not above flying straight into your face if you happen to be in their path of flight. They’re horrible and I despise them.
I guess another thing I don’t really miss about London was the complete lack of etiquette while walking. I didn’t experience this anywhere else, but I’ll try to explain it like this: you know when you’re walking down the street, and you’re walking towards someone coming from the opposite direction, and the two of you don’t really know who’s going to go which way, so you do that awkward little dance thing before you finally maneuver around each other and go on your merry ways? Yeah, London folks don’t do that. Instead, they assume that you will move clear out of their way. If you don’t, they do not care. You’ll be rammed into as if you just hit a brick wall. It happened to me way too many times to count.
Oh, and I also don’t miss the rain. It rains a lot. But not the way you would expect it, no. If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling, and if it’s not drizzling, it’s misting. And it happens when you least expect it, so the key is to always have an umbrella handy. Always.
Q5: What do you miss about England?
The amount of things I’m homesick for from abroad is unhealthy. I’ll just make a list.
1. GOOD tea. We just don’t make it like they do over there.
2. Primark. Primark is a godsend. Imagine Forever 21 x100 and you’ll get Primark. The clothes are cheap (and when I say cheap I mean quality and price), cute, and did I say cheap?
3. Cadbury. Cadbury is everything. I miss those little dairy milks.
4. Pub atmosphere. This is something that American culture does not have. It’s not about drinking. It’s about going to the pub and meeting your friends after class. It’s about spending time with people you care about and forming friendships you’ll never forget.
5. Free museums. As far as I know, almost all of the museums in London are free. This made traveling easier, as I was able to go in and out of museum after museum whenever I wanted.
6. Markets. There are so many markets in London. Camden Town is probably one of the most popular markets (at least it was in my friend group), but there are loads all over and they are just so much fun to explore.
Q6: What new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?
Cheeky. I can’t really explain what this means, but if someone were being sarcastic or playfully teasing, you’d call them cheeky.
Dodgy. When something is sketchy.
“Cheers, mate.” Us Americans would probably say something like, “thanks, dude!”
“You alright?” The first time someone ever said this to me, I looked at them with a blank stare on my face. I thought to myself, “Do I look upset? I feel fine, why is he asking me if I’m okay?” Clearly, it does not mean what we usually take it to mean. Instead, this saying is sometimes used in place of, “how are you?”
Lovely. Okay, so it’s not really new, but Brits use the word lovely so much. It’s just lovely.
Fit. This is another way of saying you think someone is hot (as in attractive).
Bird. This refers to a girl. Similar to the word “chick.”
Smart. If someone looked smart, they’d most likely be pretty dressed up and looking super fancy. In the words of Drake, “Oh you fancy huh?”
Fancy-dress. Refers to a costume, like you’d wear on Halloween or to a themed party.
Boot. The trunk of a car.
Lift. Most people know this one, but in case you don’t, it’s another word for elevator.
Trolley. It’s what you would use if you were going shopping at Target. (It’s a cart).
Uni. Short for university. They don’t say college, unless they’re actually in college, which is a whole different thing than uni, but that’s irrelevant.
Q8: Where did you go on your breaks? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?
Well, my experience was a little different than the way most people travel when they are abroad. I didn’t make too many weekend trips. I actually only went on two, if you don’t include Spring Break. The first place my friends and I went to was Dublin, Ireland. I’m not really sure how we chose this one, but if I remember correctly, I’m pretty positive one of my friends said, “I want to go to Ireland. Let’s go.” So we picked a weekend and booked the flight that day. The second trip my other friend and I went on was to Barcelona. We had been talking about going since the beginning of the semester. May was quickly approaching, but I had been doing some research, so we finally booked our flight a couple of weeks ahead, booked a hostel our friends told us about and went for four days. It was wonderful.
Spring break worked out in a similar manner. My parents actually came to see me during my spring break and we traveled around Britain. When they left, I took the Eurostar and ended my break in Paris.
Now, there’s a reason I say my experience was a little different. Before I went abroad, my mom and I were talking about the places I wanted to travel while I was over there. She told me that after her semester, she traveled around Europe for a couple of weeks before going back home. One day she asked me, “So when you go, you’re going to stay a couple more weeks and travel right?” I hadn’t even thought about it, but she was offering, and I wasn’t saying no. I didn’t have a clue who I would travel with, and at first I was hoping to just meet someone while I was abroad that would want to do the same thing. Eventually, it was decided that my best friend from home would fly to London at the end of my semester and we would embark on a Eurotrip together. We did just that, but with the added company of our close friend from home. The three of us flew to Rome and then traveled by train to Pisa, Florence, Venice, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam before journeying back to London.
Planning the trip was a lot of fun for me. I had wanted to plan my Eurotrip ever since I could remember, so I enjoyed every second. I had a guidebook, which definitely helped, but there is a ton of information out there on the Internet (Trip Advisor and Hostelworld everyone!). That being said, planning a trip is time consuming. You need to know where you want to go, what route you’re going to take, how long you want to stay, what trains you can and cannot take, etc. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s absolutely worth it. I found some amazing hostels for my friends and I to stay in, where we ended up meeting some amazing people (who we still keep in touch with), and my friend’s dad even got us a couple of free nights in two different Hilton’s in Italy!
Q9: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
My biggest challenge when I was abroad was the day of my “medical emergency.” It was two nights before I was leaving for Barcelona, which also happened to be two nights before my final exam. Earlier that day the left side of my mouth was killing me. I didn’t understand why. I tried to ignore it, but the pain kept getting progressively worse. That night I called my parents. I told them that I noticed it was swelling, and I wasn’t sure what to do. After much freaking out, they decided I would need to contact someone and go to a doctor. I was not happy about this. I refused many times, telling them that I needed to pack and study for my exam all day. They were persistent.
After a lot of work, they helped me find a walk-in-clinic in Central London. But I was still concerned about my exam. Running all over the place in Central London all day meant I wasn’t going to get any studying done. Not to mention I was absolutely terrified because I had no idea what was wrong with me. Nevertheless, the next day I set off by myself, swollen mouth and all. Long story short, the doctor I saw told me it was dental, and that I would have to see a dentist. Luckily, there was a dentist who could see me that day, and he was only located around the corner. Still terrified, I walked to the dentist where I was greeted by very friendly staff. It turns out that I had some sort of infection, which could sometimes happen after wisdom teeth surgery, but was rare. He prescribed me antibiotics, told me I’d be fine by my flight, and wished me luck. I also ended up getting out of having to take my final exam, and everything worked out in my favor. It was still one of the scariest experiences I had abroad, but I’m glad I was able to overcome it.
Q10: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students afraid of studying abroad?
Two words: DON’T BE! Listen, I get it. It’s totally normal to be worried or scared of going abroad. As excited as I was about going to London, the weeks and days before my trip, I began freaking out. I shut down, and anytime the topic was brought up, I smiled uneasily and answered any questions politely. My closest friends and family were the only ones able to see the intense anxiety I was feeling. I knew absolutely nobody in my program. The thought that I was going to be completely alone and independent kept running through my mind, and I was sure I would fail. Was I going to make friends? Was I going to be homesick? Would all those lovely Brits like me? I was in constant fear. One of the things I was most nervous about was leaving home and missing out on all the experiences my friends would have. As selfish as it sounds, I didn’t want them to meet new people and have too much fun without me. A horrible case of FOMO, am I right? Really though, all these feelings are completely normal. The key is to not let any of these feelings influence your decision to go abroad.
Going abroad was one of the best experiences I will ever have in my entire life. It allowed me to open my mind, immerse myself in other cultures, and see history many people don’t have the opportunity of ever seeing. It showed me how beautiful the world is. I’ve come back and now all I want to do is travel. I’ve come back and I’ve grown in ways I never could have imagined. I am so thankful for my experience, and if I could, I would do it all over again.