Crossing the Atlantic

An insight into life at Surrey from current US students

Cheeky Politicans and Election Banter

David Cameron

David Cameron, Prime Minister, and his ‘bro’.

Not that Nige can’t be a bit cheeky and that there can’t be political banter in England, but the best way to describe the recent British elections on May 7th is probably not through cheek and banter. Instead, think of this as a starting point for all the inevitable political discussion that’ll arise when you’re at Surrey.

Is it just like a Presidential Election?

In a word, no. It’s time to throw out all your ideas about who will control the House or the Senate and stop trying to figure out Electoral College votes because a General Election in Britain is a very different thing.

Cheeky Nandos and Banter

Hey!

Recently there has been a craze on twitter and various social medias to define “cheeky nandos”. Apparently an American was wondering what it was and the British have been trying to define the term with little success. It is now my turn, hopefully being an American will help 🙂 Let’s start off by explaining that Nandos is a restaurant that serves loads of chicken dishes. It is really popular and pretty similar to Red Robin in terms of relatively cheap restaurants that young people love. Cheeky is a term that the English use to describe being “naughty” or “pushing your luck a bit”. For example, Urban Dictionary has a good example:

Driving: Part II

Earlier, Holly told you about the daunting prospect of begining to learn to driving in Great Britain, and I’ve been lucky enough to just finish that very same process. The first thing to note about driving here is that the DVLA (That’s the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agencey– think of it like the DMV or RMV in your state) doesn’t care in the slightest that you’ve had an American driver’s licence- no matter how long you’ve had it. Still, if you’re desperate to get driving around Guildford, your American driver’s licence will be valid for up to one year. Now, for the actual process: Like Holly told you she’s done, you’ll need to get a Provisional Driving Licence. This, even if you don’t plan on driving, is a good thing to have. Unlike an American learner’s permit, it’s an actual ID, usefully to have unless you want to be lugging your passport around. From there, while you don’t have to, it’s best to take lessons. I’m one of the few Americans I know that had a manual car in America, and can confirm that it takes a bit of getting used to. If you can, try to practise before coming over! Even if you do, lessons after would still be a good idea. Really, would you know what a sign saying ‘Adverse Camber’ might mean, or that a white circle with a line through it does not mean no speed limit (the latter which I only learnt after quite a lot of speeding…)? Post-lessons, it’s time for your test. The first bit is the theory and hazard test which you can take a short walk away on North Street in the centre of Guildford. If you’ve driven before, it’s nothing to worry about. The second part of the test if the practical, which makes anything in America seem like a daudle. Forty minutes of constant observation and tight manouevers around Guildford may not sound like the ideal way to spend an afternoon, but it’s all worth it when you learn that you won’t need to take another driving test in England until you’re 70! Should you have any questions about driving or anything- academic or life-wise- feel free to email us at northamerica@surrey.ac.uk.

EXAMS TIME!

If you’re at high school in America, chances are it’s finals time, and if you’re in 12th grade, that means while English students are just begining to start revising hard for their A levels (for those that don’t know, think of them as required APs, and that you only take APs), you’ll soon be kicking back for a summer before starting uni. For us at Surrey, however, we’ve just finished up our four week long Easter Break and are into our final few lectures and tutorials before our exams in June. As a law student, I’ve got five modules, four of which will be entirley assesed on essays due on the 1st of June, and the last, European Union Law, will be assesed by exam on the 5th. As stressful as it is to have my grades all based on single assesments, it’s still an excting time, and although our first year grades don’t count to our final degree grade, I’m still trying for all 1sts. A ‘1st’ is the top mark that you can get at an English university, and for my course it’s a 70% and above, but 70% is a difficult thing to acheive here! A 1st is followed by a 2:1, which is a 60% and normally the degree required to do a masters degree, and after that is a 2:2, a standard pass, and a fail, though our tutors do their best to make sure as long as we’re paying attention, that last is difficult to happen. All of this might sound a bit complex compared to American college GPAs and the like, but rest assured you’ll know what you’re doing when you get here. If you’re in America worrying about your SATs and ACTs, just think that in a year (or two) how excting it could be to finish up you’re first year in Guildford!

End of the Year

Hello!

Just some quick updates on some of the logistical things that I have been dealing with:

Still no date for a National Insurance number…they want it to be difficult. I have heard the problem is because I have dual citizenship (USA and England), while being just one makes the process way easier.

I had my first drivers lesson though 🙂 The instructor picked me up outside my accommodation, and was very helpful the entire time. I did way better than I thought, I even drove myself through the centre of Guildford. I only tried to drive on the other side of the road once 😉 Successful day. I did learn that you cannot book the theory/written test before having a provisional license and the wait time is about three weeks, also you cannot book the practical/drive test until you pass the theory test and the wait time is about seven weeks. Taking this all into account, I probably will not be able to pass my drivers test before the end of the year, hopefully the theory test though.

Spring Break and Onwards!

Hello again!

I have just arrived back in Guildford after a whopping four week long Spring Break. Feel free to really appreciate the fact that English Spring Break, or as they call it “Easter Break”, is about two weeks longer than the American one 🙂 Plenty of time to lounge around, eat all the food I have been missing, and visit friends. Speaking of which, to pre-warn those who are thinking about or are coming to Surrey, Spring Break will most likely not align with the American Spring Break. My friends break in America, started in March and ending before April, here in England the break does not start until April and ends at the end of April. I was rather sad that was the case at first because I had been missing my friends in America. However when I got there, I ended up seeing loads of my friends. People that went to school in Seattle (ten minutes from where I live) were almost always around. I was busy every day of my break. I figured you all should know that is the case.

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