Foreign exchange students Sophie Buckhall, Sarah Hewerdine and Will Annetts arrived to the University of New Haven Jan. 17, traveling from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom.
These students study international business management, and prior to graduating, they must study abroad. When deciding where to fulfill this requirement, they chose the United States since the language is the same, even though they still had to study a language before they were eligible to study abroad.
While at UNH, they are required to take six classes to match the workload equivalent of theirs in the U.K. However, they were able to choose their own classes here, which range from wedding planning, sports management, journalism and organizational marketing amongst others. “All we have to do is pass,” said Buckhall. The three also enjoy the luxury of being able to choose their own classes, while in the U.K. their classes are all chosen for them based on the degree they are pursuing.
Buckhall, Hewerdine and Annetts explained that they are somewhere between a sophomore and junior status. “At Lincoln it is a three year program,” whereas at UNH it is a four year program.
For the duration of their stay, the students were assigned to Bergami for housing. “In the U.K. you are very independent, so being here it is kind of like being at a boarding school,” said Hewerdine. “It’s like taking a step backwards. I thought I would find it difficult, but I don’t mind.”
The three have done a lot of shopping in the short time that they have been here, including shopping for bedding, which they did not bring with them in their luggage. After friendly encounters at the local Target, they decided that everyone they have met, with a few exceptions, is “so polite and helpful,” said Annetts. While the language is the same, some terminology differs, and they had some trouble finding what Americans call a “comforter.” “We didn’t know. It took an hour to find bedding and people helped us. They wouldn’t do that in the U.K.” The students have also bought a lot of clothing they would consider expensive back home. They took advantage of the Martin Luther King Day sales and “stocked up.”
The students have also noticed differences in American fashion, food and classroom structures, compared to that in the U.K. that they are accustomed to.
“U.K. classes are much bigger with 100-200 in a lecture, with a separate seminar with about 20 people,” said Annetts. They described their lecture classrooms as “a box with chairs,” and enjoy the “American (modern)” feel of the new classrooms, and especially the stock exchange board and Vlock Center in Maxcy Hall.
They take four classes with two lecture periods per class and one seminar, where they get a recap and more one-on-one experience with their professors. “It is when we get to ask questions. You can’t really do that with a lecture hall of 100 or 200 people,” said Hewerdine.
They also have noticed, and enjoyed so far, that the classes at UNH have more of an applied method, whereas the lecture is taught with the use of scenarios in the U.K., and they seldom have guest speakers which they are looking forward to here.
The class load is also set up differently. There are few weekly homework assignments in the U.K.; instead, there are just a lot of assignments due at the very end. “So everyone waits till the end to do it all,” said Annetts.
Another difference Hewerdine pointed out was that grading is taken a little more seriously here at UNH. In the U.K., 70% is the equivalent of an A here, and only 40% is required to pass. “It is easier here in the sense of what you learn – it’s basic,” said Hewerdine, “and you get points for showing up! That’s mental.”
The students have hopes of getting involved on campus, even for the short stay they have. “I have already talked to my professor about Marketing Club,” said Hewerdine.
“And maybe a sorority. They don’t have them in the U.K.,” which Buckhall explained was because they are more based around sports at the University of Lincoln, where rugby is the highlight. The trio plans on taking avid use of the Rec Center and love that compared to at their school, where they pay $40 for their memberships, they are allowed to go for free and take kickboxing classes.
While the differences seem prominent now, “we’ll get used to it,” said Buckhall. “I miss English food and Sunday dinners with shepherd’s pie.” As mentioned, their lifestyle back home is more independent; they cook for themselves and there are no meal plans, so on top of not having their own apartments like they are used to, in the U.S. “you have to get what they cook, and dinner closes here at the time we are used to eating at home.”
When describing the style of UNH students, Hewerdine said it was “seriously casual,” and Buckhall thought she was overdressed. They are used to a very “dressed up” fashion in the U.K.
Since they are not 21, but are used to their 18-year-old drinking age back home, they have since also realized “how large our drinking culture is,” said Hewerdine. “I can’t get my wine here.” While it is accustom to relax with a drink after a long and stressful day where they are from, “here we went back and had a lot of water,” said Buckhall.
With Bergami comes roommates, and while they are used to having an apartment (and bathroom) to themselves, they are acclimating. “Everyone has their own friends already it seems. We have to break them down and work our way in,” said Buckhall.
So far they have enjoyed their stay, and found some aspects better than home. The three have visited New York City, and have a few more destinations on their list to hit before they head back home.