As I’ve mentioned a few times, in 2014 I spent a semester studying abroad at the UK. It was fantastic and I made so many amazing memories, and my only regret is that I didn’t keep up this blog while I was over there. I’m retroactively going to record some of my favourite memories from that beautiful time in my life.
In January 2014, I left NZ for Royal Holloway, University of London. I chose it partly because it was the only school in London that my home university offered, and also because it looks like this:
I wasn’t scared about leaving home, or travelling to a place I’d never been before, or even being completely responsible for myself. I was most scared about making friends. I’m the very opposite of outgoing and was terrified that I’d spend my study abroad experience alone in my room. For the first time in my life, I was completely alone. While that scared me a lot, it forced me to talk to people and actively make an effort. Luckily, I was on exchange with so many great people (most of them were from the States) and so avoided my fear of being an isolated ibis.
In hindsight, the first month didn’t actually consist of much, other than making friends, settling into classes (class in January was a very novel concept for me), and exploring London. When we went into stores in London, I felt very much like a small town girl (in NZ I live in Wellington, hardly a tiny town!) because everything was so big. The idea of a shop having more than two floors was something I’d never considered. I also looked ridiculous because every time I saw a squirrel I got really excited and took lots of photos.
Being both a linguistics student and the only New Zealander, my way of speaking presented a lot of unintended issues, both frustrating and entertaining. Most people couldn’t understand my name until I pronounced it with a terrible American accent (“OH, Clemmie, not Climmie!”). There was also the occasional time I would say something and have my American friends stare at me because they had no clue what I’d said. Sweet as is a typical kiwi way of saying that is good – for a long time people thought I was saying sweet ass. I also taught people delightful kiwi slang terms like churr, crook, and wop wops. The differences in vocab delighted me (again, linguistics major) – the fact that people can grow up all speaking “English” but have such vastly different vocabularies is something that I love about language.
When you’re retroactively writing about an experience in several parts, there’s no great way to finish off one, so I’ll leave you with a couple more gratuitous pictures: