Thankfully, for me, the UK is an English-speaking country. That’s not to say that I would be uncomfortable had I studied somewhere I needed to learn the language; after all, I did fine in Germany two summers ago. I can say that learning advanced topics in mathematics and finance would be a lot more difficult if I had to learn a language as well. The classwork is pretty demanding, and mostly is taught in a way that you need to get the foundation yourself and use the teacher as a resource. Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time outside of class reading deeper into topics that interest me and learning about Mathematics applied to almost every discipline through the lenses of Statistics and Linear Algebra, since there is such a wealth of interesting applications.
However, British English is its own animal in a certain way, simply because they’ll absolutely make sure you know you haven’t said something correctly since you’re an American. I walked into an H&M and was asking where the pants section was, and they kept guiding me to the underwear section, until I realized of my own volition that pants, here, are in fact trousers, and underwear are referred to as pants. Seems elementary, but at least I haven’t dropped the only curse word that gets a reaction over here- ‘bloody’.
British cuisine seems to be universally panned, solely because in their long time as the worlds largest empire, they were able to take the best parts from other cultures foods while minimizing the traditional British foods to pretty much being mince pies, roasts, and fish & chips. Even Nando’s, a cheeky British staple to grab with the lads, is inspired by African cuisine and uses their chili peppers heavily. Because of this, I do have to make clear that proper Brit Fish & Chips is one of the best meals you’ll have over here if you’re not apt to expand your palate. However, there are so many options from around Europe (Döner Kebab being my favorite) and the world, like Vietnamese Pho, stir fry, proper Italian, and even more esoteric dishes depending how far off the beaten path you look and what you’re willing to try. Whatever mood you’re in, there will be somewhere to meet it.
Since there’s not another H-SC student anywhere in the country as of the time of this writing, I’ve spent most of my time with the people I met inside of Bankside House (my dorm) and other General Course students. Interestingly, I ran into a fellow who studied in Valencia, Spain, with my Fraternity brother, who knew yet another Brother of mine from Washington, DC. A lot of students are from around Washington, DC, so I have that in common with a lot of them- there’s even one of my friends who went to a High School 15 minutes away from mine. However, going out usually just means going to a bar or club, and I’m tight on money so I haven’t been spending much time out except for the weekends, often preferring to save money, eat in, and hang out in the Bankside basement bar. People here are very driven and studious, so striking the balance between studying and fun is important to many of them, and I don’t feel out of place at all. My proudest achievement has been just that- I’ve managed to secure an Internship for when I return, kept my grades up (on the assessments I’ve taken thus far), and made some good friends who I truly believe will be with me for life. It’s been an amazing opportunity and as the next semester begins, I am excited to keep building my relationships and knowledge of the city. Maybe I’ll even have enough money to fly somewhere cool, and you can hear about that.