This week I decided it was about time you heard from someone besides me. Alexandra, the American from my ballet team, let me interview her about her time at Surrey. She has been at Surrey for many years and truly has had the experience to tell you about being an studying abroad in England!
Who are you?
I am originally from Upstate New York (no, not New York City). I completed my undergrad degree at Surrey in 2014 and decided to continue on for a Master’s at Surrey. I moved to England when I was 18 to start University and this is now my fourth year living in England.
How did you find out about the University of Surrey?
I found out about Surrey through extensive internet searching for programmes that fit what I was interested in. It was important to me that the University I would end up choosing was a reasonable distance from London (initially, this was because I wanted to be able to fly home at holidays and the London airports are the cheapest and easiest to fly home from).
Why did you choose the University of Surrey?
I love London and have been visiting London since I was a little kid. I also applied to universities in London, however, I decided that it would be a lot easier to live outside of the city and then just travel in on weekends or whenever I had free time. London is an amazing city, but as a student, it also offers many distractions. After visiting the University of Surrey, I just knew that this was the university that I was going to attend. The campus was beautiful, the people were very friendly, and Guildford was the perfect sized town (Although, apparently it’s considered a city because it has a cathedral! England has the coolest rules.). Surrey is also an internationally recognised university and it was climbing the league tables when I applied. I figured it was better to choose a school that was currently gaining in success, rather than a school that used to be successful a while ago.
What do you like about Guildford?
Guildford is beautiful. I love that it’s a town, so it has that community feel, but it has everything that you might need! There are many different grocery stores, all different types of clothing shops, delicious restaurants, great pubs, and it even has a canal! To be honest, I didn’t really like Guildford when I first moved here because I thought that I wanted to live in a big city like London. But after actually living in Guildford for a year, I changed my mind and learned to really appreciate all it had to offer. After visiting many, many towns in the south of England, I have decided that my favourite (in terms of where I would want to live) is Guildford (I might be a bit biased, but it really is a great place).
What do you like about England?
I love that public transportation is so efficient (most of the time) in England. And you can walk everywhere! I love walking because you can see so much more (plus, exercise…without even entering a gym!). But buses, trains, taxis, and the tube (in London) can get you wherever you need to go! That definitely can’t be said for America, mostly because everything is so spread out. Transportation and the ability to walk everywhere is definitely one of the things I would miss most in my daily life if I moved back to America.
Would you suggest living abroad to other students?
Moving to England and studying at the University of Surrey is genuinely the best decision I have ever made. It allowed me to fully learn about England and its culture, meet amazing people from all over the world, and receive an outstanding education. I don’t think that you can ever really understand a country or a culture without spending a good amount of time there. Nothing you can read on the internet or hear from other people who have visited will be the same as experiencing somewhere yourself. I would highly suggest studying in another country if you have the opportunity. It’s not very often that you do get the opportunity to live in another country for an extended period of time. If you’re from America, like I am, you can study in America whenever you want. But you can’t always come to England, for example, and go to University here. If you go to university in another country, you are immersing yourself in another culture, with a whole new group of people. And that is the ultimate learning experience.
What have you learnt about living abroad?
I think the biggest thing for me, having travelled to England many times before actually moving here, was the realisation that living somewhere is completely different than just visiting or going on vacation somewhere. But I think this is true of living in any new place. It’s a strange thing to completely uproot your life, pack it in two suitcases, and move across and ocean, thousands of miles from home.
Any advice for students studying or thinking about studying abroad?
I think the best advice I can give, being from America, is don’t study in another country with the attitude, “I’m American and I am here in your country now. Where are all the American restaurants and stores in this town?” Sure, it’s great to occasionally eat at TGI Fridays when you are missing home comforts, but really try to learn about the country you are living in. Try their local foods and learn how to cook a Yorkshire pudding from one of your flatmates. If you have a day off, visit smaller local towns for the day and just explore! London is great, but local towns can give you the true feeling of the culture and traditions of England and you can learn so much! Plus, you will find so many beautiful places that you never knew existed.
As always if you have any questions do not hesitate to email me at: email@example.com