By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
One of the reasons I chose to study at the University of Winchester was the fact that I’d be going to a country that spoke the same language.
What I didn’t realize until I got here, is that while I speak the same language as everyone in England, I don’t always understand them. Whether it be the different slang or how fast they talk, it can take some extra time for me to understand what British people are saying.
At this point I’ve only been in England for a little over a week, but it didn’t take long for me to notice the difference between cultures. As my classes, or modules as they are referred to here, began this week, one thing that became apparent was the amount of effort British students put into how they look each day. I was used to being able to go to class wearing a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt and not feeling like an outsider, but here in England no one would show up to their module in sweats. Even in my early morning classes most of the students well put together, this is a foreign concept to me.
The other day I walked into the food hall around noon to grab lunch, just after going to the gym, so naturally my hair was a mess and I was in typical workout clothes. I could quickly tell I was the odd one out as every girl there seemed to have their hair and makeup all done and their outfits carefully planned out. Luckily I was grabbing my lunch to go and could quickly make my way out of there.
I’m one who often rolls into my morning classes with my hair still wet from the shower, as I don’t like using a blow dryer. But I have yet to see any other student do the same. Instead everyone has their hair neatly styled, and not in a frizzy mess like mine. The extent of styling I do is brushing my hair once maybe twice a day. Maybe it’s time to invest in a blow dryer.
Besides the fact that I clearly have a different accent from a majority of the people here, I thought for the most part I could blend in. I could get used to dressing up a bit more for lectures and going out into town.
It was pointed out to me by none other than a homeless man that was walking along the streets of downtown Winchester, that my three other American friends and I clearly looked American. This man had not even heard us speak, but somehow knew where we were from right away. For those of you who know me, you know that I have pale skin and red hair, so I thought for certain I could somewhat fit in among British students, but I suppose not.
Once people do discover that I am in fact American, they all feel compelled to mention President Trump at some point in the conversation, to which I politely reply that I would rather not talk about the politics of my country. However when they ask, “how does it feel to have Trump as your president?” it’s hard not to delve into my thoughts on that.
Another common question I’ll get from local students is what part of the country I am from. I’ll often get a blank stare as I mention I’m from the state of Maine. I’ve found that it’s easier to just mention that I’m close to Canada so as not to confuse them too much.
While I don’t expect myself to come back to the states having a different accent, I wouldn’t be surprised if I brought back some of the common slang. I’ve gotten used to calling french fries chips, but I still catch myself saying dollars instead of pounds. Other notable slang I’ve picked up have been, an umbrella is called a brolly, a sweater is a jumper, and you never refer to a pub as a bar. One thing that took me by surprise is that people will come up to you and ask, “are you okay?” when they are actually asking if they can help you with anything. When I was first approached by someone asking if I was okay I was taken aback, thinking that I looked awful or sick, or that I just looked completely lost, when it turned out they were just being polite and helpful.
As the semester goes on I’m sure it will become easier to get used to living in an entirely new country, but for now I’ll just have to accept that I am the odd one in the crowd.