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 Reflections from England

UMD Students Share Observations of Cultural Differences

The Study in England Program, sponsored by UMD, offers students a wonderful opportunity to enrich their college experience by spending the academic year abroad. Students spend the academic year taking courses and living on the University of Birmingham campus. Birmingham is England's second largest city and is located 110 miles northwest of London. The program accepts 50 students a year and financial aide is applicable towards the program. Currently, 28 UMD students are studying and experiencing British culture through American eyes. The following UMD students were willing to share their stories and enthusiasm for this unique opportunity provided by UMD and the University of Birmingham, England.

Ashley Huhe
Ashley Huhe 

Ashley Huhe, Graphic Design

Well, my favorite pair of pants is quite a dark shade of indigo, but in England I’ve found this is on “a need to know basis”… When talking to a Brit, "pants" actually refer to your underwear and the word "trouser" is the most appropriate term for your jeans. This has been a miscommunication between many of us Americans here in Birmingham and has led to a lot of laughs.

People love their dogs here; they are a big part of the family and the culture. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere… some stores, cafés, and even on the buses. I have yet to see a misbehaving dog. At home, I’m used to dogs running up to you and jumping on you or trying to lick and sniff you. In England, I swear, that the dogs don’t care about you walking past them. I have even seen one dog (with a collar) in the park sitting there with no apparent owner… like the dog himself went on a walk to the park to chill out. It’s kind of funny to see.

One thing that makes me a little depressed is the lack of “real” coffee. I miss my Caribou or UMD coffee shop coffee on many mornings! While there is a whole aisle at the grocery store devoted to tea and coffee, about 50 percent is for tea, 35 percent is instant coffee and 15 percent is bean coffee. Ahhh and no flavored coffee! All I can do now is wait for mom to send me a care package. In the mean time, I’ve grown to love tea!

Brenda Thompson
Brenda Thompson 

Brenda Thompson

After living in Birmingham for over a month, I have noticed differences in clothing style. I did know that leggings were popular over here, but they are even more so than I thought. Most girls really don’t wear trousers, they wear leggings instead. They wear them with t-shirts, sweatshirts, tunics, dresses, shorts and skirts. And they come in numerous colors and patterns.

My favorite things about the fashion here are the shoes and the glasses. I see so many interesting pairs of each. My favorite shoes for men are the colorful canvas trainers and the winklepickers, nicer, pointed-toe dress shoes. I saw a really cool pair of shimmery, gold canvas kicks at TK Maxx. The Wellies (rubber boots) are fun to browse through.

Baggy jeans show up about as often as skinny jeans. Skinny and straight leg jeans are popular here as well in the states. Some people make their own style, and don't follow what everyone else is wearing. A girl on the bus wore parachute pants; I hadn’t seen a pair of those in quite some time. Sweaters and cardigans are more popular than sweatshirts, although I do see an occasional Uni or brand-name sweatshirt. For clubbing attire, sequins and glam are in, along with very, very short skirts. And I thought some of the clubbing clothing in the states was extreme.

There is slang over here. "Making the pull" refers to going out and trying to pick someone up and "taking the mick" is similar to our ‘pulling your leg’. I also was trying to find pickles in the store and when I asked, they showed me a jar of brown, jam-like product. What we call pickles are called gherkins. An aubergine is an eggplant over here, but they pronounce so differently, I was confused when I first heard people talking about them. Also, one night over cards we were having a discussion about basil, oregano, and Parmesan cheese. The Brits that were in the room were making fun of how we say the long "a" in basil, the short "a" in oregano and pronounce Parmesan, parma”john” instead of parme”san”. It was great poking fun at each other.

Vienna Miller-Prieve
Vienna Miller-Prieve 

Vienna Miller-Prieve, Communication Sciences and Disorders Major

Overall, people in America are much busier compared to the slower European pace. In America, no one ever really stops to sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book, or enjoy a long meal. We need to get to the next thing and move on to something else. In Europe, it is normal to enjoy a meal for several hours without being asked to leave.

I wonder if we are losing touch with one another by being so busy. We may be hurting relationships when we don’t spend time properly sitting and checking in on each other's lives.

For more information on the Study in England program, please contact Lyndsey Anderson at 218-726-6673 or lmanders@d.umn.edu, 138 Kirby Plaza.

Article edited by Alicia Stockard, knip0002@umn.edu

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto, slatto@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830

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Last modified on 04/22/11 02:33 PM
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