Make Sure You Pack an Umbrella … (Nicole Engbretson)

… And yet it’s rained only once or twice since I arrived in London last week. My British flatmates have informed me that what we have currently is closer to July weather, certainly not what they’d expect in October. Perhaps I should have grabbed sunglasses instead.

It’s strange essentially starting over as a freshman, especially because I am the only student from SNC on Goldsmiths’ campus and I live in a first year complex. This also means I am the oldest in my flat, and one of the oldest among the other individuals I’ve met so far (I turn 21 this coming week, which means that as a first semester senior in the United States I am used to being younger than most students in my year).

The culture shock has not been as bad as the jetlag was, but there are a few things that definitely took some getting used to. Crossing the street of course, as I’m sure others have mentioned, is a feat at first considering they use the opposite sides of the street that we do in America (I have already witnessed several fellow Americans wander aimlessly into traffic, but thankfully they all stepped back in time). Almost weirder to me though is watching people get into the opposite side of a car to drive – I was genuinely confused the first few times. The tube (train) system was not as difficult for me to adapt to as I thought it would be, and while I still have more to learn about it I find it to be much more efficient and functional than Chicago’s public transit back home (also a lot cleaner, although the underground lines get terribly muggy during busier parts of the day). Sometimes peoples’ accents are difficult to understand, but I am definitely learning quickly – small amounts of the accents already even slip out when I myself am speaking.

As part of my first entry, let me introduce my flatmates: There are eight of us, including me, but thankfully we all get along well. Three of us are American, but only Adrianna and I are exchange students for three months. She is a junior studying Theatre at a school in Pennsylvania, and has a large group of friends from home studying here this term as well. Lucy is from California, but is just starting her first year of college and remaining at Goldsmiths for the entirety of her undergraduate program. The remaining five are also freshman (“freshers”) and from all over England (I won’t be able to tell you where for all of them, as I’ve already lost track). Ben is from near Bristol, he is majoring in Popular Music, and plays in a band at home. Ale (pronounced “Alli” and short for “Alex”) is from near Birmingham and an Art History major. Toby is majoring in English and wants to pursue something in poetry. He has also always been fascinated with Wisconsin, so he actually had a vague idea where the state is in geographical terms. Hatty is also studying Art History, and Millie is also an English major.

This past week was “Freshers Week”, full of a variety of icebreaker events as well as orientation and “Freshers’ Fayre” (much like our own Involvement Fair). One of the most popular events that is held weekly is called “Club Sandwich”. Their version of our campus center is called the Student Union, or “SU”, and hosts a club with a bar, dj and dance floor as well as a cafe. The club area is used for a variety of things, including nights like Club Sandwich, general mixers, and promotional events.

Tomorrow (Monday, October 3rd) classes begin. Music majors like Ben, however, will not start class until the following week – The first week of the Autumn term is referred to as “Music Week”, where all of the ensembles will practice and then perform on different nights. I myself am taking one cultural music course (Folk and Urban Musics), but my other three courses will meet as scheduled. Biological Substrates of Behaviour and Origins of Human Nature are my two Psychology courses, and then I am also taking a London Theatre course. I am excited to have classes with the university’s full-time students, most of whom will be European, as well as my fellow American exchange students. After a week of integration and meeting new people, I am looking forward to exploring my curriculum here.

Nicole Engbretson is studying abroad at Goldsmiths College in London, England.