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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!