Crossing the Atlantic

An insight into life at Surrey from current US students


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


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.

Hello America from Sunny(ish) Guildford!

Be it the literal first word or not, ‘twee’ is likely what comes to mind when most Americans picture a life in England. Whilst it’s true that this 16th century village life can (almost) be had just down the A25 at Shere or Gomshall— two lovely villages near uni— there’s far more to the UK, England, Guildford, and of course university life, and it’s this that brought me to the University of Surrey. Over the course of this blog, it will be my job (literally) to bring to light for you, the hopeful American, why this one university four thousand miles away is the destination for you as it has been for me. I do hope you enjoy as I detail the joys of passing my UK driving test, the perils of a new ‘language’, and of course the academic life that simply cannot be had anywhere else.

Hello from a Washingtonian!

Hello my fellow Americans!

I am Holly, a first year Computing student from Bellevue, Washington. I was born in California, but have spent most of my life in Washington. If you know anything about Washington, I pretty much fit the stereotype. Rain, hippies, and Starbucks run the state. The Seahawks are the best “American” football team, and we will win the Super Bowl again one day 🙂

I grew up with English parents, I am a first generation American. I had a dream to come back to, as I call it, the “mother land” to experience living in my second culture. Thinking back now, it makes me laugh that I once claimed so passionately and with such determination that I was English and not very American. That is far from the truth… I am definitely an American, but instead of denying it, as I once did, I love it. Moving from America has opened my eyes to how different, but special both countries are.

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