Alexandra Press, a current Junior studying abroad in Falmouth, UK, sent us this story of what it’s like to move across the world for a semester.
Name: Alexandra Press
On Sunday, February 1st, 2015 I arrived at my new home for the next five months, Falmouth, Cornwall in England. I was relieved to be met at the bus stop by a few of my housemates who drove me to our house. They also helped me bring my bags up to my new, small-but-comfortable room. I was quickly introduced to my housemates. I found them very nice and since have grown fond of them. They’re an animated and entertaining bunch.
Everything is exciting, and everyone is friendly. But I haven’t been without my homesickness. I’m very close with my family and friends back home and I left behind my boyfriend. During the day I am around people and doing this so I’m alright. Nights are hard. I’ve already gotten a care package and my boyfriend sent me chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and all of this helps. But part of me can’t get over how long I will be here. One month is the longest I’ve ever been away from home, excluding living at school during the school year. Facebook is wonderful to stay in contact, but it’s also a constant reminder of everything I am missing at home. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into my studies. I think it will make the weeks pass by more quickly. Also, once the weather gets nicer I will be doing more outside and hopefully traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m already enjoying my time here. It’s just hard.
My first day in Falmouth was somewhat uneventful. I went to ASDA, the English equivalent of Wal-Mart, with my housemates, but then couldn’t go into town due to rain/hail. I wasn’t too surprised by the weather, but apparently hail isn’t common. Snow is even less common. This was a pleasant surprise since even worse weather will be common this time of year back home. So that’s a perk! The next day I was able to go into town with one of my housemates, Aishi. She’s actually the girl whose room I took, and is now out of the house now, but she was around to show me the ropes my first week.
I absolutely love town. It’s a short walk down the hill to get to all the shops and numerous pubs Falmouth has to offer. It’s rather lovely! Many of the pubs are stereotypical British with names like “The King’s Arms” and “Seven Stars”. It’s funny how living somewhere can blind you to things. Everyone I talk to is surprised when I say how exciting I find Falmouth. Talking to the students here you would think there are only two pubs and a grocery store. The fact that I have at least ten pubs, five pasty shops, and a dozen clothing stores within ten minutes walking distance from my house is absolutely wonderful to me! My campus isn’t in walking distance, but the bus I take to get there is only five minutes away and only a pound to ride with a student ID. I really have it pretty easy.
On Wednesday of my first week in Falmouth I started orientation. I and the other exchange students were given a tour of the two Falmouth University campuses. The university facilities are wonderful. Penyrn Campus, where I attend my classes, is very new and modern. It’s cheery and quite colorful. I was happy to find a café in the performance center where I will be spending most of my time. Their brownies are to die for.
During orientation week, we were taken to the Eden Project and to a beach for a surf lesson. Though the surf lesson was quite fun, going to the Eden Project was absolutely my favorite part of the week. It’s the site of three bio domes – two indoor and one outdoors. One of the indoor bio domes is a rain forest! It was absolutely beautiful and a little overwhelming. The air was so clear and smelled wonderful. They have a cacao plant inside and I was able to try a cacao bean! They’re too bitter to actually eat, but just sucking on them they’re pleasantly sweet. The other indoor bio dome is a Mediterranean climate. I could honestly live there. The plants and structures were gorgeous and the atmosphere was so relaxing. At the Eden Project we also walked around outside and went ice-skating! We also had lunch there and the food was amazing. It was expensive, but it’s all natural and green so totally worth it. I am absolutely set on going back to the Eden Project once spring has arrived so I can see it all in bloom.
On Monday the 9th, I started my first week of classes. I am taking four classes, two with the second year actors, one with the first year actors, and one with the first year theatre students. I quickly found my differences – good and bad – between Falmouth and Towson. The class schedules, “timetables” here, are not as strict as they are at Towson. What I mean is, the actual schedules varies from week to week. You are expected to check online for when you are in for classes because it isn’t always the same. Although this was an unpleasant discovery, Falmouth’s online portal is very easy and nice to work with so everything is really simple to find.
So far, I like my classes and my “tutors”. My radio class and my acting for film class are going to be wonderful learning experiences. Falmouth has excellent TV and recording facilities that I will get to work with for class. For acting for film, we’re even going to a professional film studio nearby to shoot one of our scenes. I’m really excited for that. This week I will jump with a project and scene work.