UNCG: British perspectives

Images money / Flickr

Images money / Flickr

Jessica Matthis
    Staff Writer

With over 100 exchange or study-abroad options available around the world for summer, spring, fall or winter semesters, international study is possible for many, if not all students at UNCG.

In fact, according to UNCG’s official study abroad webpage, about 400 UNCG students study abroad every year.

These students come from almost 50 different countries and a wide range of different backgrounds to experience what UNCG has to offer, and on a larger scale, what North Carolina and the United States have to offer.

While many UNCG students do study abroad, the experience of objectively witnessing UNCG and, by extension North Carolina, belongs uniquely to the international students, who are able to see UNCG and the university’s culture from an entirely different angle.

Coming from their own diverse cultural backgrounds, the international students at UNCG offer a perspective that no other students can.

When asked why she wanted to come to the United States, Casey Taylor-Williams, of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, said, “I know it’s your home, but for us… It’s America. It’s ‘the American dream.’”

Taylor-Williams and Sebastian Harker, British theatre majors studying abroad here with UNCG’s department of theatre, discussed their experiences so far, as well as their expectations and plans for their time in North Carolina and the United States.

Taylor-Williams and Harker, having arrived in North Carolina almost two weeks ago, agreed that they have adjusted well, despite some challenges and a little culture shock.

Taylor-Williams noted that her British accent often started conversations, saying, “[People] notice the differences. We’ve had the stereotypical conversations already, like, ‘How do you say this; how do you say that?’ And actually, they’re quite fun.”

Harker agreed, adding, “I feel like Americans are very, very friendly and welcoming.”“We feel like [UNCG is] very similar to how American colleges are portrayed in the movies,” Harker said. “It’s so accurately portrayed! We come over here and think, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this on TV!’”

The two noted that they were slightly disappointed that the university seemed to lack a large Greek culture and college football, which they had expected of an American university and still hope to experience before returning to the United Kingdom in December.

Taylor-Williams and Harker also shared their experience so far with Phillips-Hawkins, the residence hall fondly known by many as “I-House” because it houses UNCG’s incoming international students.

Among the differences between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and UNCG that they explained, sharing a dorm room and a communal bathroom were two of the biggest.

“At home, we’re used to having our own rooms,” Taylor-Williams said. Despite this adjustment, she said, “The facilities here so far seem really great.”

According to Taylor-Williams, another benefit of studying at UNCG is the location of North Carolina in relation to travel destinations.

The two indicated plans to travel to New York at the end of the semester, as well as plans to meet up with family in Florida.

However, the students explained that location and accommodations are only two of the benefits of studying abroad. In addition to travel experience, they hope to gain people skills and experience from UNCG’s theatre department.

Both Taylor-Williams and Harker agreed that the things they are learning and have already learned from the process of studying abroad will help them in the future with their careers.

“Because I’m an international student, I feel more obliged to throw myself into things… At home, I’m comfortable where I am,” Taylor-Williams explained, describing the “open-mindedness” that she hopes studying abroad will help to cultivate.

Harker agreed with this principal. “Say ‘yes’ to everything,” he said, explaining his personal strategy for expanding his horizons.

“[Study abroad] has made me want to explore a bit more when I get home,” Taylor-Williams said.  “I want to explore where I live.”Both Taylor-Williams and Harker encouraged UNCG students to visit the U.K. and to travel, and gave sage advice.

“If an international student from here is thinking about going to [the U.K.] for University, go somewhere you’ve maybe not heard of before,” Taylor-Willams said.

“London’s not the best representation of England; you won’t get the stereotypical, actual British things. That’s why we felt the urge to come here, because we felt we’d get our traditional, American experience. Go to London, but also experience a few corners of the U.K.,” Harker added.

Taylor-Williams and Harker also encouraged UNCG students to be open to new things, and to consider studying abroad.

Categories: Features, Investigative

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