The UK Campus Exchange Experience

Imagine being inside an airplane full of people, with no sound with the exception of the plane itself and suddenly, hearing a chuckle out of nowhere. That’s how I started my journey to the UK. The rest of the journey I was watching a Bollywood film where the main character was shot down yet somehow managed to drag himself back to his house and sing a song before his eventual demise. This took the character about 20 minutes (literally) and yes, I was the inconsiderate buffoon trying not to giggle my butt off in an airplane full of people trying to sleep. To be fair, 12 hours of flight from KL to London with 3 more hours of bus ride from London Heathrow airport to Nottingham was quite long; it would have been strange to not have such an episode or two (right?). I mean, these things happen when travelling; you just have to roll with it and learn from it.

Speaking of travel, travelling around the UK is quite fun. For instance, I went on a trip to Stonehenge and Bath organized by the Travel Society from the Student Union on this campus (it’s Union here, not Association). At Stonehenge, I got the opportunity to have a look and take a picture of a pile of stones for about £6. In Bath, I went to a Roman bath museum where I got to walk around clothed where the Romans used to walk around naked many years ago for £11. This experience taught me to reconsider travelling around places that even the locals have chosen not to visit. Having said this, I think the people that I met during the trip and the fun involved in it was valuable and worth it.

I also met new people outside of Travel Society, from right next to my room and people in my hall, to people from various clubs and societies. For example, I met a dude who’s in the Quidditch Society through my new friend in the hall. It was quite interesting to listen to how they play the game: especially the part where the golden snitch is a person dressed in yellow that runs around in the field trying to protect the tennis ball attached at their back from the chasers. Having to meet and know these new people was quite a delight: except for the awkward moments when we remembered each other’s faces, but not the names. However, it wasn’t always new faces because I had people that I knew from UNMC who’d come on exchange, and some seniors who are now doing 3rd year undergrad as transfer students or master’s degree. So, I got to hang out with them as well. We’d occasionally go shopping or invite each other for dinner.

Now, I live in a catered hall so, all meals have been paid for and although quite a few people complain about the catered food, it’s quite alright with me. However, it can get a bit repetitive after a while, so one of the alternatives is potluck. For example, I cook some Korean food (since I’m South Korean), and the others cook their own cultural food. With this method, I’ve tried some Chinese, Indian, Jamaican, Italian, British and Korean dishes. For the reader’s information, I take about 15 minute bus ride to market places to get some fresh ingredients for some ‘local’ dishes such as pasta, meatballs, sandwiches, and for many other cultural dishes as well (I got the ingredients for Korean food from there as well).

It’s almost surprising how the studying aspect didn’t come to my attention until this stage of writing but anyway, here you go. If you come from small classroom based lectures (30~40 people) like me, you may find sitting in a lecture with many hundreds of people a bit distracting because there tends to be some sort of noise every other second. Also, there might be some differences between what you’ve learned in UNMC and UNUK students learned here. I hope no one gets the wrong idea here: the materials are the same, just that there are some minor details that can vary (the idea here is difference, not better or worse). On the other hand, there is more availability and variety of research areas that I can take, and the facilities here are pretty good. Also, there are more opportunities related to my field of study (psychology aka awesomeness) such as Nottingham Advantage Awards, volunteering programs, clubs and societies, and work placements.

This is my experience so far and it feels quite good that it is.

Simon Kwon

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of the editorial team of IGNITE.

"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light." - Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian

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