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 choosing her words carefully

Time March 30th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hi Readers!

I have been keeping a list of some of the things that I say differently. A lot of times, people give me the benefit of the doubt because Lancaster has a very diverse student population. Usually I don’t get corrected, though sometimes my friends find it funny enough to say something.

  • I am writing an essay, and not a paper. Though in The States I would use both interchangeably, I get mocked here for saying paper (because they think of newspaper). Lovingly mocked, but still, mocked. And actually I’ve written one essay, have another one due Friday, and another due right after break. Not that much work, but these are worth 50% of my grade!
  • You bring vouchers in to a restaurant to get a 2-for-1 deal. I don’t even know if they use the word coupon.
  • The word “bangs” makes my friend Kate, from Manchester, laugh every time I say it! The word is “fringe”.
  • So. Aluminum/Aluminium. Yeah. There’s an issue there. That one actually almost became a fight…
  • During my baking exploits (because I do love to bake) I walked into a Sainsbury’s looking for baking soda so I could make chocolate chip cookies. I knew there were other names, so I knew to maybe be on the lookout for “soda” or some other variations of that, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Eventually I went and asked a worker where to find it. He led me right back down the aisle I was in and points to something and says “Um, I think this is it.” Well, I thanked him for his help and ignored the fact that he had just pointed me to baking POWDER, which is definitely not what I needed. Luckily I looked around because behind the front row, I found was I was looking for: “sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, or bicarbonate of soda.” Also, the vanilla was really expensive, but it’s SUCH good vanilla.
  • Powdered sugar is called Icing sugar here. It’s really difficult to guess here, because in the US, they would usually have it in a plastic bag, and here they sell it in boxes, so you can’t just look in to make sure it’s the right thing.
  • Oh, side note: Get used to printing things on A4 sized paper. It’s a little bit skinnier, and a few inches longer than legal sized paper, which is the standard in the US. Usually the printer is smart and will just shrink/stretch your document to fit onto it, but to get a more professional looking paper you’ll need to change your page layout settings in Word.
  • I was told that when writing an essay, I should just pick either British spelling or American spellings and stick with it. So that’s what I tried to do. It was difficult as I was writing about “behaviour” in “organisations” so pretty much every citation I had needed to be altered. I’m not sure how my lecturer is going to grade that, hopefully she’ll remember that I’m a foreign student and have pity.
  • I asked the city librarian for directions to the theater, and she asked, “Well which one?” and I was thinking to myself, “come now, Lancaster isn’t THAT big” but I said “Well, just the main one, you know, the one that isn’t Duke’s [which is a “playhouse”- they only have 2 screens, show little indie films and plays and such]” and she’s like “well I don’t know which one you mean.” I was so confused how she didn’t understand what I was saying. Luckily, there were some girls that were just heading home and they said they’d show me where it was. They told me to be careful because “cinema” is the movie theater, and a “theater” is for plays. This was a very strange interaction because usually people know what I mean, but they feel the need to correct me anyway. She just genuinely didn’t understand me!
  • Lastly, I am contracting an accent, very slightly. I noticed it even in the first two weeks, because I had to modify the way I ask questions. It’s different here, just the intonation- which word of a sentence has the stress on it. I couldn’t tell you exactly which accent I’m speaking in, because my best friends are from Aberdeen [in Scotland], Morecambe [the next town over], Reading [which is wayy south], Manchester [about an hour from here, but Kate’s accent is the thickest I’ve heard yet (besides the Liverpool accent!)], and South Africa. I probably speak mostly with a Northern accent though. I hope I don’t lose it too quickly once I’m back in the states!



    This post is about Heather loving England

    Time March 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

    Hey Readers!

    I know a lot of people blog only about their travels, but I have to say I’m so glad that I’m here, in Lancaster. I am increasingly more glad that I didn’t go to London (because that was a conscious choice for me), though I think it is a great city. I love living in the countryside, and we travel a lot. I have the incredible chance to be involved with a group of kids here who belong to the same church that I do, and they are all local-ish (some of the Uni kids are from other cities, but there is a hefty chunk of people who have lived in Lancaster their whole lives). Anyway, I love where I am, right here. I do love to travel, but I love my little community here.

    Trip to Blackpool to visit Show-zam’d, a little carnival:
    winter gardens

    The coast in Morecambe:

    Back alley behind the bus station in Lancaster:
    Bus Station Alley

    I love BBC News. I’ve been following the news in the Middle East the past few weeks (Go Libya!), and have appreciated it more than all American news channels which I try to avoid.

    I love when people try to have me speak with a British Accent. My friends’ favorite thing is to make me say, “I just can’t be bothered!” It’s so honest. In the US, we’d be more inclined to make something up as an excuse (“Oh I can’t reach it”, “I don’t want to wash another dish”, “I might be busy that day”) but the English just tell you they don’t want to do whatever.

    So you might think it’s funny to poke fun at British spelling of things, people actually get kind of offended. They are very quick to point out that “you speak ENGLISH. We invented the language.” I was trying it out just as a social experiment, and I think I’m over that one. Yeah, they don’t like it. Another social experiment I tried was asking the boys playing Call of Duty in my flat if they’d ever fired an actual gun as opposed to a gun in a video game. One of them had, during a visit to is sister in America, but the rest had never even touched one (I come from gun-happy Idaho). I think I earned some street cred with them for saying that I’ve been shooting before. And then, just as Andrew an Lynn said, they asked, “Have you shot anyone?” Nice joke. Real original. Hahah.

    I’ve had to do my housing application for next fall at GW already, and I am registering for classes in just a few weeks. This makes me sad. I’m not ready to think about being back in GW, and rightly so! I still have 17 weeks left here. Nobody better ask me about it.

    We decided this weekend, on the IFSA-Butler Adventure Weekend, that we were 3 degrees removed from reality. Reality is a stereotypical salaried job etc, once removed is Uni, twice removed is studying abroad, and then three times removed was being on vacation. (Wales, as you can seen from the pictures below, was stunning/spectacular by the way. If you’re a future IFSA student, please please please make sure you go. SO much fun. Oran and company did an excellent job planning it all out.)

    View from castle ruins in Llanberis, Wales:
    View from Llanberis

    Coastal view from Llandudno, Wales:
    Coastal View

    Caernafon Castle, Wales:

    Our Next Top Model winner, Wales:



    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!