How a Brit experiences the wonders of American college life

Anna Rees

Some might say the transition from rural Wales to the U.S. wouldn’t come with many adjustments, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

I’ve been here for just over a month and it’s fair to say my visit in Trumpyland has been an experience.

Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got their similarities; we’ve both got headless chickens running our countries for starters.

There’s a few things we need to get straight. Yes, our accent is real, we’re not putting it on to get into parties, although it does help. On several occasions, we have turned up to parties and been flatly refused.

But, once we open our mouths, there’s a few seconds of awe, then the door magically opens like the gates to heaven.

Not that I’d describe a frat house as heaven. We appreciate the occasional compliment on our accents. But when the whole class is gawping back at you, it’s kind of petrifying.

It’s also good to note, we do not all live in London, or even England for that matter. Wales is a country too, I promise. It’s slightly larger than Massachusetts, there’s more sheep than people and rugby is our king.

The third misconception we face on the daily is the perception that we’re all clued up on Brexit. Quite frankly, most of us haven’t got a clue at this point. We’re as exhausted as you are.

Ignorant, egotistical and arrogant are a few words used to describe your current president, Donald Trump. Although your president may be quite aloof, every American I’ve met couldn’t be further from this. I hope you can say the same about us and our very own Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

Being surrounded by the aura of Burlington positivity is definitely one of the perks of living here. It might have something to do with the amount of coffee you drink.

British culture means passing someone on the street, shooting your eyes to the floor and avoiding any form of communication. But American culture could not be more different.

From the moment that I wake up in my dorm, there’s an American face beaming across at me, asking about my day, what I’m doing, who I’m seeing. When in all honesty, I’m not awake enough at this point to engage in any such conversation.

But the gesture is very much appreciated. In Wales, it’s what we would call “lush,” loosely translated as awesome. I still haven’t got used to the constant enthusiasm, but I assure you the novelty will not wear off anytime soon. When speaking to several other international students, they confirm this, claiming that it’s the most welcome they’ve ever been made to feel.

Studying at UVM has been a shock to the system, from the cost of textbooks, lack of public transport and the endless reading. How you get anywhere without a car is a mystery. The city bus system has been a savior when travelling around Burlington, but attempting to get any further is a task and a half.

We attempted a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory last weekend, only to realize that, firstly, the bus doesn’t run there on a weekend. And secondly, that an Uber would cost $120, so that’s a write-off. We’d appreciate any tips on getting outside of Burlington. Please help, asking for a friend.

The thing that probably shocked us the most in our first week was the treacherous trip to the bookstore. In the U.K., all of our textbooks are online for free, so it was a shock setting my eyes on that $200 textbook I knew would only get used a handful of times.

I have yet to find ways around buying textbooks here, but I’m told it’s easy enough. Worst yet, those plastic iClickers that do just that, they click. That’s literally it. It’s 2019, people, are we not yet familiar with apps?

Most readings here keep us locked in the library for hours on end. Never did I think on my year abroad that I’d be spending this much time in the library.

At my home university, reading amounts to around four hours per week, total. We spend the rest of our time, mostly in pubs, enjoying ourselves. I admit I have learned so much since being here, but the reading is something I will never become accustomed to.

A common frustration amongst my fellow international students is the absurd drinking age. We’ve been drinking for years at home, then we turn up here feeling like kids again.

I can’t say feeling like a kid is my favorite part of American culture. We’re still struggling to figure out how you all do it.

To sum it up, in Burlington, I’ve drunk less, travelled less, worked more and learned more. I guess the trade-off isn’t too bad.