Academics: A Semester Abroad in England
by Kali McCullough '10
Leaving home has never been really hard for me because I find a little bit of "home" wherever I go. When I left my parents at the security gate at the Raleigh-Durham airport — admittedly a little teary-eyed — I knew that the adventures and experiences awaiting me during my semester abroad would more than make up for what I was leaving behind.
The flight was long and uneventful, as flights are prone to be, though it was empty enough that I could stretch out on a row of my own and enjoy a seven-hour siesta. Thank God for direct connections! The plane landed at London Gatwick airport and I made my way to the South Terminal where I met up with Dr. Bujak. The excitement grew as more and more students trickled through the gates and joined our crowd. Soon we were all present and accounted for, so we squeezed onto a coach and set out on the other — not the wrong — side of the road toward Grantham.
Though I was exhausted, I couldn't close my eyes for a second for fear of missing some beautiful inch of English countryside. After several hours of traffic we turned down a lane boasting a sign for the manor. I held my breath. I was getting closer, I couldn't contain my excitement.
As we crept up the drive we caught sight of first the Carriage House, which elicited some "oohs" and "ahhs," and then the Manor itself, which simply resulted in a stunned silence. As I stepped off the bus and moved towards the open front door, I finally realized that I would be living here for the next sixteen weeks. When I shook Dr. Kingsley's hand, I could have sworn he said, "Welcome home."
We gathered in the Great Hall to start the Orientation process, which was long and drawn out, just like Orientations everywhere. We started the arduous, though thrilling, task of finding our way around the castle. (It's more difficult than I had imagined!) Our Orientation packets held our room keys, so I went to my room in the Carriage House, which is separated from the Manor House by a sliver of driveway and a canopy of bright green trees. I met my roommates, two really great girls from the University of Evansville, and started to unpack my bags.
For dinner, as we had anticipated, the kitchen staff served an inaugural meal of fish and chips. It was good, and we were starving after all that traveling! Afterwards we met up in the Bistro for drinks and snacks and games.
The first night I spent there was little more than a sleepover at a friend's house. It was unfamiliar, but it was grand and exciting. One of the best things about being here with a bunch of college-aged kids is the ever-present understanding that money is an object for everyone here. Friends search long and hard for the best, cheapest deals on food, entertainment, and travel. We then scurry back to our friends and whisper about the new deals we've found, excited to be spending the least amount of pounds sterling possible, because every one pound in England is two dollars in the U.S. So far we've all succeeded in being relatively frugal, but we still have an entire semester's worth of expensive adventures to fulfill. All I can say is, Europe, hit me with your best shot.
A native of Columbia, Tenn., Kali enjoys traveling, writing poetry, playing guitar and singing, snowboarding, reading, and making things out of paper. She is a French major with a double minor in Spanish and English. After she graduates, she hopes to teach French or work as a translator for an overseas branch of an American company.