When you think of home, what are some of the things that come to mind? Perhaps a busy city life with people always walking around you on the sidewalks, or maybe a big open space of wonder where you can always hear the birds singing in the morning and the crickets in the evening. The word “home” is so extensive, able to conform to different scenarios and depictions.
For me, home is a city. It isn’t abnormal to hear the sound of cars driving by on the streets, or neighbors to be walking their dogs throughout the day. I am originally from Rhode Island, where the urban life is a bit calmer than maybe that of New York but significant enough to where you still are able to have that unique city experience. Going to college and living in the heart of Philadelphia is an increase to the kind of lifestyle that I am used to. At Temple, I am much more accustomed to hearing the noise of motorbikes and the whoosh of the subway trains than what is typically heard at my home in Rhode Island.
My new home at Lancaster is unlike any other “home” that I have had prior to traveling abroad. Despite reading about Lancaster before applying to study abroad, I was still surprised by the school’s location and environment while on the airport shuttle to campus after my flight. I quickly began to get the impression that I was going to be in the middle of nowhere, as my surroundings during the drive changed from multiple buildings and cars to large fields of land and numerous herds of sheep. Lancaster University is located in the small town of Lancaster, where one can see many green plains surrounding the campus and where the only sounds to usually be heard from outside are the birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees. At first, it was a bit strange adjusting to the quiet countryside of England, but I began to love the change after a few days of being here.
The university’s campus is closed in contrast with Temple’s open campus, which is interesting in itself for many reasons. The main navigational terms used by students are “the North Spine” and the “South Spine.” These are the primary passageways to get around the campus, with the North Spine taking you towards the center of the university and the South Spine taking you otherwise. While this is a different concept than what I am used to at Temple, it becomes easy to understand and a piece of cake to know where you want to go.
England’s distinctive qualities compared to the United States can range from major to minor differences. One major difference, for example, is the well-known fact that people drive on the left side of the road rather than the right side. I had known this prior to studying abroad, but I am still getting used to seeing the driver on the right side of the vehicle rather than on the left side. The weather in England also changes drastically, for it could be bright and sunny one minute and then starting to drizzle with rain the next. Even though I will be here for half of a year, this change in weather is something that I don’t think I will ever get used to!
Then there are some of the minor adjustments that I have had to make thus far. Language learning is often an important element of the study abroad experience, but perhaps one you might not expect in the United Kingdom. Terminology can vary in ways one might not automatically consider. For instance, if you are out shopping and you ask an employee where you can find some pants, they will direct you straight to the underwear section–the term for what you are looking for in England is the word “trousers.” In some situations, you have to choose your words carefully or you might receive some funny looks!
All in all, I find myself feeling more comfortable and at ease with the adjustment phase of my study abroad experience, and I am beginning to identify an additional sense of home in Lancaster. Each new day is like a new adventure for me, and I can feel my love for this country growing with each passing moment. I realize that it is normal to feel homesick, and I have had times when I wish I could hug my mom one more time or play with my dog again. There is always going to be that longing feeling in the back of my mind, but there are certainly more than enough chances and opportunities around me to keep me occupied and content. I am extremely happy that I can call Lancaster University a home away from home, and I look forward to what is to come during my remaining time in England!
Get a glimpse of Lancaster University and the town of Lancaster as well as a sense of campus living, all from a student’s point of view!