United Kingdom | Semester Exchanges Blog

My time in Nottingham has come to an end. I had a great semester exploring and meeting new people! I have learned so many new things and I can’t wait to take them with me and use them in my everyday life.

My time abroad has definitely made me become more of a global citizen. I have had the incredible opportunity to learn through a different method of teaching and experience new points of view. I really enjoyed the structure of the majority of my classes. We had no quizzes, homework assignments, or exams throughout the course of the semester. Instead we had one cumulative final essay that we had all semester to work on. However, for other classes that had final exams instead of an essay, this made learning the material more difficult. There was no way to check our understanding of the concepts being taught throughout the semester, so studying for a final was a daunting task.  Nevertheless, it was nice not having much work to do during the week and made for a less stressful semester. I definitely noticed that conducting business in England and Europe as a whole is a lot more laid back than in the U.S.

Hopefully, I will be able to take what I learned while abroad to my future work. It was nice having a good balance of work and free time. I spent a lot of my free time traveling and exploring England, and even other countries in Europe! Public transportation in Europe is very accessible and made traveling super easy. The people in Nottingham were very friendly and always surprised to meet an American, since it is not a very big city like London is. The only downside to England was the food. It definitely doesn’t hold a candle to American food, and made me have a greater appreciation for the food back home.

Overall I really enjoyed my semester abroad! I can’t wait to visit England again. I made great lifelong friends during my time in Nottingham, England and would definitely recommend doing a semester exchange to those considering it!

Categories: United Kingdom

Wow this semester flew by and I can’t believe that it’s almost time for me to return home to the US. It was a great semester in Nottingham, England. I got to see so many different places, meet new people, and I learned so much during my time here.

This semester was a nice change of pace from my previous ones at A&M. As I explained in my first blog post, I didn’t have any weekly assignments or quizzes or regular exams. My grades are dependent on one final exam at the end of the semester, so I had a lot of time to relax. I love to read so I was able to finish quite a few books this semester. Another thing I did with my downtime was travel. I was able to visit London several times and I enjoyed exploring the city. London is only a two-hour train ride from Nottingham, so I was able to plan both day and weekend trips. I loved the city so much that I’m considering moving there for a few years after I graduate. It’s such a diverse and unique city and I think it would be a cool place to live for a bit.

One of the biggest lessons I learned while being here is the importance of balance. There is a saying that Americans live to work but Europeans work to live, and that is something I experienced firsthand during my semester abroad. Students are more concerned with living life and enjoying their time at university than they are with studying and grades. This was frustrating at times, but I gradually began to understand that having the mentality that school and grades are not the end all be all is not a bad thing. While I do believe that working hard is important, I now understand the significance of having a good school/life balance. Taking time to relax and enjoy the present moment is important. I was able to have a better school/life balance this semester and it was good for me. I hope I can maintain this balance during my last two semesters at A&M as well as carry it forward into my working career.

One thing I will not miss about England is the food. I’m sorry to say that English food is not very good. It’s very bland, everything is boiled, and I very quickly discovered that potatoes are served with every meal. It made me appreciate and enjoy the food I ate during my travels outside of England. I’m looking forward to getting some Chick-fil-a and some tacos upon my return to the US.

The end of this semester and the close of my study abroad trip are bittersweet. I am looking forward to going home and seeing my friends and family. But I will miss the friends that I made in Nottingham and the travel opportunities that this semester abroad provided me with. I had so much fun exploring England and traveling to other European countries as well. I am so grateful that I was able to study abroad this semester and that I was able to learn so many valuable life lessons during my time here. Goodbye for now, England. Hopefully, I will see you again soon!

Categories: United Kingdom

I have been in Nottingham, UK for almost 2 weeks and so far I have been enjoying my time getting to see the city and country. Nottingham is in central England and is about 2 hours north of London. Nottingham is best known for its Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood and there are a lot of references to him throughout the city.

My first week in Nottingham was spent exploring the city and figuring out public transportation. Public transportation is a very popular way of getting around the city, whereas back home we usually drive everywhere. Here, there are trains, buses, trams, and taxis everywhere. Another alternative is to just walk! Everything in the city is fairly close together and getting around is quite easy.

Classes began this past week and I am noticing many differences between the US and the UK. The structure of classes is very different in England from what I’m used to in the US. For example, there are no homework assignments during the week and no quizzes or exams throughout the semester. Our grade for our courses, or as they call them here, modules, rely on one final at the end of the term. In my case, I have 3 essays and one exam for my 4 modules. Additionally, we have different class styles throughout the week instead of only having lectures. There are seminars and lectures. Seminars are more discussion-based than lectures are. We usually have lectures earlier in the week which are followed by seminars later in the week where we talk about what we learned in our lectures. This structure also causes my class schedule to change week to week because some modules don’t have seminars held every week.

I think that after a couple more weeks I will be able to acclimate and get more immersed in the culture. I am still getting used to my new environment, but I am very excited for my time here and I can’t wait to experience more!

Categories: United Kingdom

I arrived in the UK a little over a week ago and after spending a few days in London, I moved into my dorm at the University of Nottingham. Nottingham is situated in Northern England (it’s about a two-hour train ride from London) and it’s much colder and windier than Texas. It’s the home of Sherwood Forest (as well as the legend of Robin Hood), Nottingham Castle, and the oldest pub in England. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the city and learning about its history. The easiest way to travel between campus and the city center is via the bus/tram system. It took some trial and error to figure out how to use and navigate this system as I am used to driving pretty much everywhere back home. But I’m happy to say that I think I’ve got it mostly figured out and I love how convenient it is to take the bus and/or the tram. I’m grateful that I don’t have to drive anywhere as the English drive on the other side of the road. I just have to remind myself to look in the opposite direction than what I’m used to before crossing the street.

One thing I’m grateful for is the absence of a language barrier. However, it’s been interesting figuring out the different terms the English use. For instance, French fries are called chips in the UK and potato chips are called crisps. Classes are called modules and when you meet someone on campus, you don’t ask what their major is, you ask what course they’re taking.

My classes (or modules) started yesterday and I’m enjoying them so far. The school system is very different here. My class schedule changes almost every week which makes me miss the consistency of A&M’s class schedules. Also, I don’t have any weekly assignments, quizzes, or tests. My grade depends solely on a cumulative exam at the end of the semester. Because of this, I’ve had a lot of free time to explore both the campus and the city. I’ve also noticed that students tend to dress nicer for their classes (and just in general) than they do in the US. The University of Nottingham has a large population of international students so there are a lot of opportunities to meet people from different backgrounds as well as get involved in different organizations (which are called societies here).

I’m definitely still adjusting to life in a foreign country but I’m excited to be here! I’m looking forward to traveling around England and experiencing more of its culture during my semester abroad!

Categories: 2022, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

My name is James Miller, and I am a Management Information Systems Major from Burleson, Texas. I am currently taking part in a study abroad with the Business school at the University of Nottingham. When first deciding to go to college I asked countless people about their advice for attending college. Almost every person I talked to said they wish they had taken the opportunity to study abroad, so I decided to make use of the opportunity the business school offers. I chose this specific program because I had never been outside the United States before, so to make that process easier, I decided to go to a country that spoke English. When I was finally enrolled, I was incredibly excited to take the opportunity to travel and learn a little bit more about the world.

I arrived in the United Kingdom on September 2nd. Before arriving I had messaged a former student from A&M, so I met up with her. Her name was Jennifer Smith, a former student from Texas A&M and Mays Business School. She offered to take my bags while I traveled around London, where I saw several historical sites. My favorite had to be the Tower of London, a fortification next to the river Thames with a rich history dating back to the 11th century. While walking around the city, I started to notice the differences between cultures. In big cities across the US there always seems to be a sense of urgency, but even in London, it seemed very relaxed. Another cultural difference was the pubs. After work, every day, people would leave work to immediately go to a pub to relax. Which is crazy to me as a college student. After running around London for the week, I decided to go and cross off a couple of items off my bucket list by visiting Stonehenge and the Roman baths. When I got to the city of Bath I met a German in one of the hostels. We traveled and talked extensively about politics and cultural differences. This opened up another perspective about the world that I had never thought about. After traveling to see these incredible sights, I went back to London to grab my bags and head to my home for the next semester. Upon arriving, I met another former student Matt Triggs. He took me around Nottingham and gave me a list of famous sights to visit. After I spent a couple of days in Nottingham, I decided to travel up to Edinburgh in Scotland before school started. When I arrived, I traveled to the local castle, where I learned about the incredible history that Scotland had to offer. After visiting locations around the UK, I headed back to Nottingham and moved into my dorm for the semester.

When I reached campus, I was welcomed with open arms by the University. It turned out that I was there a couple of days early, so I took the opportunity to explore campus and see where I am currently living. The University is different and offers a good amount of diversity between campuses. Recently I met some of the other international students, some of which are from South America and the Middle east. It was great to compare our life experiences and bond over being in a new place. Though we haven’t known each other for very long, we go daily to the University pub (which A&M would never have) to hang out. I am currently signed up for the Waterpolo team (which I’ve never played), and the Italian society (because Italian food is good). Classes haven’t started yet, but I’m excited to meet more students and see how they compare to Texas A&M.James Miller in Nottingham Stonehenge Roman Baths Edenborough Dog Statue In Edenborough

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

Howdy everyone,

I have been in the United Kingdom for about three weeks, and I can honestly say that I am loving my time here! I am currently staying in a dormitory at the University of Nottingham where I will be participating in a semester exchange program and even living here is so completely different than back in the states. From the food served (definitely miss my mom’s Mexican dishes and Taqueria El Sol in Bryan) to the slang used, it has been quite an experience being able to get accustomed to everything here.

I arrived in London, England around 3 weeks ago at Heathrow Airport on a Monday early morning and IMMEDIATELY decided to spend the day traveling and enjoying my time around the great city, even though I was experiencing serious jet lag and had not slept at all. The airport was around an hour bus ride to Central London (where I had booked an Airbnb) but it was so worth it, as I was able to see the transition of the great plains to busy roads the closer we got to London. As soon as I got to my Airbnb, I quickly showered and headed to Tower Bridge, where I had lunch at a famous diner near the Shakespeare’s Globe. I spent that day walking as much as I could in the 8 hours that I had, making sure I Facetimed my parents every once in a while to try and make them experience what I was doing.

Following day – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DAY! For those that know me, know that I am a huge football fan, and one of the clubs that I support is Chelsea F.C., and I had the opportunity of attending the first Group-stage match against Zenit F.C. It was so odd to so many people that I spoke to in the stadium how I was able to get a ticket; I was sitting on the best section of Stamford Bridge next to fans that have access to Sport Passes for the last 30 years (there is a wait-list for people to purchase a Sports Pass of over 15 years, pretty crazy!) Chelsea won 1-0 that day, a memory that I truly will never forget.

That week I had the opportunity of visiting all of the great tourist sites in London, eating amazing food/falling in love with fish and chips, attended football stadium tours and British museums, and had a 1-day getaway trip to Oxford. To be honest I had no idea how big Oxford and its colleges are, and how gorgeous their architecture is.

Now that I am at the University of Nottingham, I am making sure to be able to explore the city as much as I can, meet new friends, and get ready for school. Our university gave us 2 weeks of “Howdy Week” which are meant for first-year students to get accustomed to the university and attend events to meet new people, and I took advantage of that. I have friends that are from many countries in Europe and Latin America, and I think that is one of the best things to have while studying abroad, even than traveling a lot. My friend-group likes to call ourselves, “The International Group”, because of how diverse we are – there’s an American, Mexican, Chilean, Peruvian, British/Spanish, and Italian.

University begins on October 4th here, which is so odd to me because I have been texting friends from back home and a lot of them had exams already, and I am barely starting next Monday. Overall I am having such a good time here, and I can’t wait to have way more experiences and create many memories.

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

Howdy!

I am just about done with my time at Lancaster. Although it’s a great feeling to finish with exams and coursework, it’s bittersweet when you know your time abroad is coming to an end. The connections I’ve made with new friends while abroad are different than those made back home. Making little and big moments count to make your experience abroad worthwhile, such as throwing you a 21st birthday party (even when 21st birthdays are bigger in America). Learning about the differences, yet embracing them and intertwining our differences. Being taught new recipes from their different cultures and attempting to make them Texas BBQ ribs and southern sides with what’s available. Although I will say the weather is a bit on the colder side compared to Texas, I have missed air-conditioned rooms (especially as we near the summer heat). However, this has created more incentive to go outside and play ball or wear a flowy dress and have a picnic in the meadows.

Classes have come to an end, with the last few months only being dedicated to studying for exams. With the way the term and exams are structured here, I plan to do a bit of traveling around the UK to experience the different areas. Since the train station is not far from campus, it allows travel to be faster and simpler compared to America. So far I’ve gone to Wales, Manchester, and will be going to Scotland this week. Hopefully, I can do the most these last few weeks with lockdown easing in the UK and before I have to go back home.

I wish I could have spent more time abroad in different countries. So if I have anything to say to anyone interested in going abroad is: just go for it because the hardest thing is leaving, but once you go you’ll be craving more. Plus you get the benefit of being in college, so you get to see other different college cultures compared to that of TAMU. It is truly an eye-opening experience. Even within a lockdown, I would do it again or jump to any opportunity to go abroad.

 

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

I’m Liz and since I’ve always been quite curious about traveling to other places outside the U.S. However, I didn’t really know how to travel nor did I have people to do it with. Going to Texas A&M and hearing about the studying abroad opportunities excited me. This finally gave me an opportunity to travel for a long enough period to experience the culture and get education credit at the same time. Deciding which country to go to was a bit tough, but if anything adjusting my course schedule was more difficult. If anyone is interested in these opportunities I would recommend meeting with an advisor to see, which classes should be taken at TAMU and which credits are ok to be taken abroad as it would make it more simple.

When the pandemic hit, I was terrified my opportunity to go had passed. However, I decided as soon as the opportunity would arise again I would fully jump in. This is what brings me now to Lancaster University. Although arriving here was a bit of a tough experience (with Britain being in full lockdown and not having anything non-essential open). Living on campus with 11 other flatmates was something I thought I wouldn’t like; however, as they slowly kept showing up it brought joy as they helped integrate me into their social lives. Although we can’t go out and hang out with many people, we can hang out outside. This has led me to enjoy going on hikes or walks around the town and seeing the old monuments and castles. Although I knew Britain was an older country it did make me feel like I traveled back to medieval times with the cobblestone streets and stone buildings. It was fun to see although I’m sure it will soon bring more people out once things settle out and the sun starts shining again.

Classes have begun and are all online for now. Although we are just in the beginning, I have noticed they are structured very differently compared to those at TAMU. It’s hard to stay fully motivated when you are just watching lectures and don’t have anything due till the end of the term. Hopefully, I am able to adjust and work with their structure. I’ll write soon about the other adventures and things I’ve learned!

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

Even though I haven’t been to New York, I don’t mind comparing it to London. Both are major attraction sites, and are both very very expensive. 4 nights in London was well worth the price I had to pay. The “pounds” are a little deceiving, because they basically 1.5x the value of the American dollar. So when you see a deal for 30 pounds (like the entrance into Westminster Abbey), it’s hard to remember that it is $45, and doesn’t seem like a good deal at all. But London has been the most crowded city that I’ve been yet, so I think they can get away with whatever price they choose and people will still pour in.

Before I go back through the trip (which was excellent), I’ll first give an update on adapting to Europe, as I am closing in on finishing my 7th week over here. I have had the hardest time adjusting to the weather so far. No, I am not talking about the cold, as warm clothes fix that with no problem. I am solely referring to the lack of sun that I have had to endure. Maybe living in Texas for 20 years has planted a very high expectation, but I am shocked at how little sunlight there is throughout the day. I can hardly recall even a day where the clouds are minimal and the overcast is gone. I feel like it is constantly gloomy, and honestly I just miss the sun shining brightly. Come on, all I’m asking for is just a few days! Well, hopefully as we head towards the spring it will start to get better and appeal more to the Texan in me.

Another obvious adjustment is the travel. To show a little perspective, in the first 20 years of my life I have lived and stayed in the same country, the US of A. I was looking forward most to this semester abroad because of the ability to travel around Europe and see all the different cultures packed in nice and tightly together. And this was a major factor in why I chose to come to Germany. The location of Germany in Europe makes it great to travel from, as it is basically in the middle and you can go in any direction! I have followed through on my ambition to travel, as I have been to 5 countries in the 7 weeks I have been living in Europe. It is still crazy to think about, but I really am trying to make the most of it. Regardless, the effects of travel have been slightly different than I expected. Basically, upon returning to Germany from the journey, I just need a day or two to get my feet back under me. What I’ve been noticing that on each of these trips, I walk on average, close to 10 miles a day (at least). So after 4 or 5 days of travel, coupled with lack of sleep, my body gets very tired out. I usually require at least a full day of rest to feel like myself again. But it is certainly a worthy sacrifice, as I have already stated, I am doing my best to make the most of my dwindling time over here!

Last, but not least, has been my adjustment to school over here. It is amazing to see just how different college has turned out to be in a new country. I still am taking a while to get comfortable with the semester being divided into quarters. For instance, I am in a class right now that only lasts a total of 3 weeks! But it is the same amount of credit as any normal class would be, and has the same amount of sessions (6 lasting 3 hours each) as every other class. But I am still thrown for a loop on my brand management class. I have already finished the lectures for the class, but we have not had a single grade for it yet. The most peculiar part is the exam does not take place until the last week in April! So I have to wait over two months to take an exam for a class that surely I will have to relearn because all the material will be forgotten. Bizarre! But that is how a lot of the classes are, the exam being the only grade you will receive for the course. The 3 hour sessions have felt like a marathon, but luckily there is a 15 minute break in the middle of each class. My only real assignment so far was finished up this week by a group presentation. I merely answered a few questions, but it was still nice to feel productive in school for a change. Classes will begin to pick up more at the start of March, but so far I have enjoyed this relaxed schedule.

Now, to London! We found the cheapest flights ever to London through Ryanair (only $20 round trip!) that seemed too good to be true. The one setback was the airport we flew into was about an hour outside of London, but the train there was not too expensive, so still definitely worth buying the cheap airfare. We made a quick investment in the London pass the following morning, and it turned out to be a great decision, as it gave us access to most of the important places to see while we were there. First thing we decided to do was see the famous changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace. We weren’t the only ones to have this brilliant idea, as the entire square was flooded with onlookers and, unfortunately, too many selfie sticks to count. Anyway, it was a worthy showcase as the band played and the guards with the poofy black hats marched around for a bit. Marching slowly toward our place in the crowd, the British were coming!

britisharecoming

It was a worthy 30 minutes spent, and we trekked onward towards Westminster Abbey. With the London pass, we gained free admission to this magnificent church. Although pictures were “highly discouraged”, I was able to take a few before we left. This church is the place for all the royal weddings throughout the history in England. It is also the burial site for many famous Brits, such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Darwin. Among the many beautiful artifacts, the architecture of the church was nothing short of magnificent. Even an hour tour did not seem to do it justice, but it was the best we could do.

Westminster      insideWestminster

Next we run into a face we would be quite familiar with the next few days. His name is Big Ben. After seeing him in movies and pictures, I realized that staring at him in person was an incredible experience. He was as beautiful as ever and showed no visible sign of decay or old age. And without trouble, we has still clearly getting the job done,  ticking away. He resides very close to the Thames River, right across from the London Eye. Definitely one of my favorite things to see while in London.

BigBen

Next, we figured it would be keen to see what these fish ‘n chips were all about. I have never proclaimed myself to be a huge fan of fish, but I can admit that the Brits may have something going here. It did help that the helping was quite massive and it was a struggle to finish the whole thing, but in the end I did prevail. But check out the size of this thing!

fish'nchips

To round out the day, a tour of the Towers Bridge seemed like the best move. This is by far the most beautiful bridge I have set foot on, and it really does put the more famous “London Bridge” to shame. It is a great piece of architecture (seems to be a running theme) and was worth seeing what was inside the towers. They had a great exhibit along the walls of all the famous bridges around the world. But my favorite part was the view we were able to have on a day with decent weather!

Towers     ViewfromTowers

That rounded out the day nicely. Next day we woke up bright and early ready to take tours of two of the most famous football clubs in England, Chelsea and Arsenal (who happen to be bitter rivals). I won’t even try to pretend that I know much about these teams, or soccer for that matter, but I still thought these tours would be worth it! They did not disappoint in the least, and I think I understand more about the premier league that everyone always talks about. Anyway, the two stadiums were quite different. Chelsea seemed a bit more for the common man whereas Arsenal had an array of ways to treat its VIP guests. Nonetheless, the stadiums were similar in size and I’m sure were both as passionate on game days. Surprisingly, these two tours ended up taking most of our day, which I was perfectly fine with. Just a few pictures to show what these stadiums are all about.

Chelsea     Arsenal

But that night might have been the peek of our visit. There were very smart business men who decided to bring Chipotle over the pond. I have never been so happy in my life to step foot in a restaurant. I had Qdoba (similar to Chipotle, just simply better) in Dallas the two nights before I left and have missed it dearly since. I will definitely attest that the quality in London was very close to the real deal back in the states. Just take a look at this beauty.

chipotle

Last, but certainly not least, was our visit to the London Eye the next day. It took a while to get through the line, but the ride was a solid 30-40 minutes. Got to see some of the best views in London, but unfortunately it was a very cloudy day. Regardless, it was worth the trip up and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But here is a better picture of the Eye on the first day (with much more clarity)

The Eye

To round off the trip, we had a lovely return flight at 7 a.m. (no wonder it was so cheap). My experience in London has been one of the best so far. There is just so many things to do and the city is huge! I was a little sad because I was not able to see Harry Potter world, but maybe another day I guess when the tours aren’t all sold out. London is definitely a place I would want to return to, as the young life is heavily present here! Finding people in their 20s everywhere we went. Besides the cost of living, London would be a fantastic place to spend some time.

Categories: 2015, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom

Well, what can I say? Just over 3 short weeks ago I began my 8 month study abroad experience and it has already been, in a word, incredible. I will be at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom until the end of June, and then move on to some personal travels around the rest of Europe for two months during the summer. Here in Lancaster I am living in a flat on campus with 5 other people and another 6 in the other flat on the same floor. I was nervous going in, but there is more than plenty of room for everyone and all of my flatmates have been incredibly welcoming and hospitable. I can already tell that we will be friends for years to come.

The sun setting on the city of Morecambe

The campus itself is much smaller than Texas A&M’s but it makes walking to class a lot quicker so I’ve got no complaints! Nothing on campus is more than about a ten minute walk and a short bus ride will take you into town easily. The amount and (relative) easy of public transportation has been one of the biggest changes for me since I’ve arrived here in England. Just from the bus stop on campus I have already been able to journey to the cities of Chester, Morecambe, and Manchester – all very interesting places in their own ways.

I have already had so much fun and I know that as the term progresses I will get to experience and learn some amazing things that will allow me to grow and excel both personally and professionally.

Until then I’ll be having some more fun in Liverpool this weekend and at Manchester United Football Club’s stadium “Old Trafford” this Tuesday!

Categories: 2014, Reciprocal Exchange, United Kingdom