Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

This post is about Heather’s summer term at Lancaster

Time June 29th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Summer term meant I had 1 week of “revision sessions” where the teachers did a recap of the course and outlined what we would be tested on. After that, I had a solid 2 weeks to revise, and then sat exams on 16 May, 24 May, 28 May, and 4 June. In the midst of all of this, my boyfriend was having some family difficulties and so he invited me to drive back to Reading with him. After returning from my trip to Europe I stopped feeling like I was studying abroad, and more like I was just visiting. The experiences I had from that point on felt more like I was just living here, like I was part of this place.

His family had a spare ticket to go see Reading FC at Wembley, which I enthusiastically grabbed! We had so much fun (even though Reading lost, and thus didn’t get promoted)


We visited a friend and toured Southport

We enjoyed the scenery in Williamson Park (Lancaster)
Williamson Park tree

Ashton Memorial

We enjoyed the Thames River in little villages around Reading
Thames River in Reading

Please go to the Oxford Natural History Museum, and the Pitts Rivers Museum! It was sooo cool (and free entry!)
Oxford Museum

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This Post is About Heather Traveling to Edinburgh

Time February 7th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | 2 Comments by

Hey readers!

Once I was all settled in to Lancaster
, my American friends who were also studying abroad started thinking about places they wanted to go. First up on our list was Scotland! We just went to Edinburgh for the weekend (Friday day to Sunday night), and it’s possible that we’ll go to Glasgow on a future day trip.

One of the best things about Edinburgh (pronounced like Eddin-burrow, but you should slur that last syllable a bit so it’s not heard) is that it was so European! When I first came to London I was disappointed that it felt so much like New York City. The stores were all chains that we had in America, except for a few little boutiques. The traffic was the same, the crazy street performers, it all felt very familiar.

I hated that! I was here for some culture, dangit, and I did get that a little bit when I came to Lancaster. Going to Edinburgh though, it was so beautiful! Everything was so rich with detail, all of the buildings and the roads, and it was done on a massive scale. I felt like I could take a picture of anything and it would be something to share with my friends at home.

We took a tips-based walking tour around the city so we could hear all the back-stories to the big touristy attractions, and I totally recommend that to anyone going to a big city.

Last tip, bring extra cold-weather gear if you’re going in the middle of winter. I felt like I wouldn’t be warm ever again by the time we got on the train back to Lancaster.

Anyway, here are a few pictures!

The Edinburgh castle is behind us:
Castle behind J, K, and Me

Jo Rowling walked through Greyfriar Kirkyard looking for inspiration and names:
Tom Riddle's tombstone

New School Edinburgh:

The Scott Memorial:

Looking down into New Edinburgh:

Old royal living quarters in the castle:



This Post is About Heather Being Settled into Lancaster

Time February 3rd, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey Readers!

Last time I left you, I was just heading in to Lancaster University from orientation in London and getting myself ready for classes.

I’ve completely settled in and am totally enjoying the culture here.

The grocery store is accessible by bus, but walking back with forty pounds worth of groceries isn’t my favorite thing to do, so we shop in smaller bits each trip. I learned this when I came to GW, walking everywhere, but I’ve had to remember everything here. If you can’t carry it around the store, you’ll hate bringing it back to campus with you.

The money here is difficult at first, but you get to learn the shape of the coins pretty quickly, the more you handle them. A lot of purchases here are cash based, and my US debit card doesn’t work in many shops (because it’s not a “chip and pin” card). It’s really strange that their bills are different sizes for different values, and they usually don’t fit in American wallets. I’m a big fan of the pound coin though, and I would love to see the US use them heavier. Coins are more sturdy, and so the Treasury would spend less money each year printing new bills to replace worn out ones.

Classes are manageable, though I replaced one in the second week and I feel as though I haven’t caught up yet. I am taking four classes here, and I’m not positive how that’s going to translate back to GW.

I have an English friend here who is studying next year at University of Michigan and we had a nice conversation today comparing the modes of teaching in the US versus England. From my experience, there is a lot more “lecture at you” type of tutorials (with no interaction), and then seminar/discussion sections which are about normal to what I expect in the US with seminar leaders trying to force kids into participating.

I’m really glad that US schools don’t usually have year-long classes, so there are no assignments due right after winter break! My flatmate had physics exams my first week here, and I think that’s just mental.

I also know about a dozen other people who are Americans studying abroad here. One of the girls I met was basically bragging about her house in the states and how big it was- a full bar in her basement and a full theater movie room and a $20,000 kitchen renovation project… and my flatmate was just astounded. He kept asking me questions throughout the night, wondering if all Americans had that much money. I told him that my family is not rich, my house isn’t big, but we do have a little bit of land. Seriously, he brought it up like 5 times during the course of the night, he was so concerned. So guys, if you do happen to be wealthy don’t flaunt it. It won’t earn you any bonus points with the locals!

Well, I’m off to the bar- each college on campus has their own (and it’s government subsidized!)- some of the guys in my hall are going to play pool and darts, which we do a lot here.

Just as a quick note, don’t feel pressured to drink. You can totally just get a water (if you feel the need to be holding something) or a lime and lemonade (which is really just lime and Sprite). In case you were wondering.



This post is about Heather getting ready to leave for England

Time January 3rd, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

December 29th, 2010

Hey Readers! I have a week until I start my trek. I live in Washington, DC, so I’m taking a train up to Newark airport so I can catch the group flight to London. (I did the group flight because it was easy and also because I have a tendency to get myself inexplicably lost, so it was better to ask IFSA-Butler to pick me up from the airport. Good choice for me). Anyway I’ll spend a few days in London for IFSA-Butler orientation and then they’ll ship me out to Lancaster University.

So basically I vary between 3 different feelings, and I’m sure everyone here is the same way at some point.

  • 1) I can’t believe it. I just think that next semester I’ll be back in my same dorm room with my roommates and my same job that I’ve had for 2 1/2 years. It’s out of my realm of comprehension. Six months in England? I’ve never even traveled outside of the United States, though I have traveled all around inside it.
  • 2) I am stuck in a daydream. This usually happens when I watch movies like The Queen (with Helen Mirren) or BBC documentaries. Occasionally it happens when I just think about living somewhere with rain and green things- I live in the city right now, pretty close to the White House, and there’s not a lot of grass/shrubs/trees etc. It’s almost euphoric thinking about the change and just packing up and moving. When I came to college I picked up and moved 2000 miles away from home. It’s a thrill not knowing anyone, and just being whoever I want. Doing whatever I want. Meeting new people.
  • 3) I’m nervous beyond belief. Mostly this is when I’ve convinced myself that I’m going to forget everything, including my passport and my brain apparently. I had a big scare about my work visa this week (because they have to take your passport when you submit your visa application, and I was cutting it deadly close) but I got an email today that they processed it in pretty much record time and were sending it back tomorrow. That was the last thing that needed to fall into place for me to go, but I’m still scared I’m going to screw up somewhere.
  • My transition to going abroad from my home university has been pretty easy, because I didn’t go home for Christmas break. I just packed everything in my one suitcase and my backpack and I have cousins in the area who stored all of the rest of it. I still feel like I’ve over-packed, like I’m going to regret having such heavy stuff when I get to England, but I’ve whittled down my amount of stuff every time I’ve visited my cousins for the past three weekends and I’m sure I’m just overreacting.

    So anyway- good luck to my fellow IFSA-Butler bloggers! I see Colleen’s already posted for the new semester, and there’s a few more posts pending, so I’ll be looking forward to reading everyone’s adventures.

    If you, Reader, have any questions at all (about applying, about choosing schools or countries, about traveling abroad), please ask! I wish I had asked more questions, because there is a lot of information out there but it gets overwhelming and people are totally willing to help out.

    DFTBA! [That’s an initialism for Don’t Forget to Be Awesome. It’s a Nerdfighter thing; if you don’t know what that is, you should look it up. If you do know what it is, you should post a comment :D] Byeeeee!