“This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do.” –Angela Chase (Claire Danes), My So-Called Life
Even before the IFSA Butler orientation—even before I was done applying to British universities for study abroad—I’d heard the same thing about the educational system here so many times that I felt qualified to teach it: it’s a lot more independent, instead of having lots of small assignments spread out over the year a few big assignments or exams are responsible for your whole grade. (Ultimately, though, judging by the crazed and frenzied approach I took to my exam period, it probably wouldn’t have hurt if I’d had all the explanations repeated to me a few dozen more times.) It logically follows that updating this blog thoroughly now, now that I’ve handed in the last of my finals (I’m still at UEA, though!), is just the most ‘British’ approach I could take.
Okay, I hope that I don’t start giving the impression that I’m unaware of how obnoxious that sounds. However—and I’m not sure if this makes it better or worse—it was one of the actual explanations I gave myself when I was taking a long time to start writing here. My main excuse was that I would keep writing once the semester started. So, I arrived in London for IFSA Butler orientation. Semester hadn’t started. I moved into my room at UEA and emptied my suitcase. Semester hadn’t started. My unpacked suitcase started to fill again with random things like plastic bags because soon I’d been living in my room long enough to accumulate clutter (admittedly, for me this isn’t usually very long). The semester hadn’t started. My internal clock began ticking on Greenwich Mean Time. Classes, people, and the campus became familiar. But the semester hadn’t started, really.
Now, I can count the days I have left on campus. Classes, then finals, have finished and people started going home weeks ago. It seems like the semester may be starting.
It’s not (just) that I was lazy, it’s just that I was waiting to get used to something that has proved to be much too exciting to get used to. Spoiler alert, for anybody who intends on reading later entries (which is happening, I have them written out): this was a really great experience. I am really grateful to IFSA Butler, Amherst College, and University of East Anglia for letting me have this opportunity. Before I left home, I was really curious to read all the archived student blogs on the IFSA Butler website and I found them all very interesting. I hope that writing here about my experience with the study abroad process will give me a chance to offer something to people in the same place that I was.