England is a country where the people and the places reveal their personalities slowly. My first experience in this country was back in 2006, when I went on vacation with my family to London for a few days. Being a teenager at the time, I was rather indifferent towards London. It was a cool place but not somewhere I instantly fell in love with. This would change, but not for some time.



A few years later, in 2009, I was in college and looking to study abroad. England quickly became my destination of choice. Coming from New York, England didn’t seem too far away compared to other places, plus they spoke English there! Over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year, I applied and then directly enrolled at the University of Sussex, located just outside of Brighton on the south coast.

几年后,在2009年,我上大学,想出国留学。英国很快成为我选择的目的地。我来自纽约,与其他地方相比,英国似乎并不遥远,而且他们在那里说英语!在2009 - 2010学年期间,我申请并直接就读于位于南海岸布莱顿郊外的苏塞克斯大学。


My time studying abroad in England lasted exactly nine months, from 24 September 2010 to 24 June 2011. My opinions toward England, English people and study abroad in general changed on a weekly and monthly basis during this time. It was the people that ultimately shaped my views, and it is these same people I am sitting with three years later as I write this.



Getting to know English culture

What really allowed me to fall in love with England were my flatmates. Living in university accommodation, I was randomly assigned to live in a six-bedroom flat where there were three guys and three girls in total. I am American, but everyone else in the flat was English. We had a bit of an age gap, as I was in my third year of university and they were all in their first year. The novelty for them to be living away from home for the first time complimented the novelty for me of living and studying abroad.  It was an extremely social year for me – we were the flat that everyone from other student flats flocked to, and this allowed me so many opportunities for enriching conversations to learn about English culture.




During this time I was forced to question things about my own national culture that I had previously taken for granted. For instance, England’s legal drinking age is 18 whereas the US’s legal drinking age is 21; this makes university a completely different experience. I observed the different styles of dress in England. Suddenly people weren’t wearing jeans everywhere and anywhere. I also really learned to appreciate tea, both how to make a ‘proper cuppa’, as well as the social function that putting the kettle on serves. Since all my time was primarily spent in the company of English people, I was able to observe so many small details of English culture that make this country what it is.



Returning to study in England again

I also fell in love with England by travelling around this island country. I would go on day trips to London, Oxford, Bath, Stonehenge, the Midlands and seaside towns along the south coast. I learned that the beauty of England is in random small corners that you might not initially set out to explore.  




Although I was skeptical at first, I ultimately loved studying abroad in England for a full academic year. It takes a while to understand the mentality of a place, so being abroad for this amount of time afforded me that opportunity.



I knew when I left in June 2011 that I needed to find a way back to study in England again. I so loved my flatmates, and was fortunate to visit them a couple times more before they graduated. When I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in international education, it made sense to me to come back to the UK to do a master’s degree. Because I loved England so much after my experiences in the south, I became really curious to explore the north and develop a more well-rounded view of the country – and that’s what I’m doing. I am currently in Newcastle, in the north of England, studying a master’s degree in a related subject. England will always be a special place for me, and I’m sure I will always be fascinated by its places and peoples.