I decided to study abroad in order to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. My mindset as I was planning the trip and when I got over there was to not really expect anything. This allowed me to stay open-minded and not create stereotypes. I met two other UNCG students in the International Programs Center who were also going to Keele. Once I arrived at the university, it was quite easy to make friends. I met a girl from Canada the second day I was there, who would become one of my best friends. Don’t worry about being alone at a new school. There is an orientation program in the beginning with all of the exchange students. Everyone feels the same way you do, which makes it easy to make friends. I met a lot of different people during the program. I would walk with someone and we would try and find our room, or some place on campus. Because of that I knew quite a few people on campus. I also got involved in the Christian Union, which was a great way for me to make friends.
Newcastle is fairly small city and Keele University sits upon the hill overlooking the city. The University is absolutely beautiful and has the most land of any university in England. There are lakes, paths throughout the woods, pastures and animals such as horses and cows. The architecture on campus is a mixture of very old, stately buildings and some new, modern buildings. Keele Hall is a stunning building. It is the oldest building on campus, and there are many weddings held there. It has beautiful rooms inside and outside lovely flowers. The lawns in front are a great place to hang out with friends. When the warm weather came, my friends and I would study out there, play Frisbee, have a picnic, and just enjoy the weather. The grass stays a deep green all year, due to the rain, and it makes the lawn that much prettier. There is a lot to do in Newcastle, as well as on campus. I took the bus to go grocery shopping at the local grocery store. Every day near the bus station in Newcastle, there was an open market, which had fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lots of other stuff. On campus I played badminton, tennis, learned how to fence, and my friends and I had a card night every Thursday evening. It was so much fun!
I stayed in the university’s guest house for the first two months I was there. They were waiting for rooms to become available for me and ten other students. I really enjoyed those two months. For some people it would have started their experience on the wrong foot. For me, however, it allowed me to see campus in a different light. From the guest house, I had to walk about 20 minutes to my classes, but I came to love that walk. It was so peaceful and it gave me time to enjoy the beauty around me. I love the outdoors, so for me that was perfect. Also in the house, I met my would-be two best friends. I had a blast with them all semester, and we still keep in touch. The house didn’t have an Internet connection or a working phone, but after a while I got used to it. It was nice not to worry about being disturbed if I didn’t want to go out. There was a good size computer lab on campus, and phones to call dorm rooms.
After two months I moved into an individual dorm room about five minutes from my classes, which was nice. I was able to hook my laptop up to the Internet and I had a phone in the room. I had 13 “blockmates” I shared a kitchen with and three bathrooms. They were all from different parts of England, and it was neat to get to know them. They were all very nice, and for the most part very friendly. Most of them came to my room the first day and introduced themselves and gave me their room number. I learned how to cook for myself while I was there; which was a new concept for me. My friends showed me different techniques and gave me recipes. We cooked and shared meals together, it was great! I would talk to some of my “blockmates” while cooking, and they would tell me about campus, and where they were from.
I took four business classes along with a Spanish class. My classes were mainly with British students and were held in the British style of teaching. This meant that two of my classes had a main lecture and then a tutorial class. The other two business classes just had lectures twice a week (these were the harder classes). The lectures were generally large with lots of students, but the tutorials were smaller, more interactive and personal. In the two classes with the tutorial, I had a paper and final exam. For the other two classes, I only had a final exam. This allowed me to have time to see many different things while I was over there.
I traveled to Scotland, Wales, Spain, France, and all over England, while I studied abroad. My dad was able to come over and we traveled around Scotland and England. For Easter, I went home with a friend from Wales. It was great to meet her family and experience the Welsh culture. I also traveled to France and Spain with other international students that were studying at Keele. My travels around England included trips to the countryside and to different cities including London and the Dover Castle. While in London, I stayed with some Keele students who lived there. When I traveled within England, it was easiest to take the train, but when I traveled outside of England, I generally flew and it was fairly inexpensive.