Study Abroad in Canterbury - Week 1

September 23, 2019 | 1:00 PM
Megan Evans '20, Social Work Major

Orientation week at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) has been an experience, unlike anything I have ever known. There are many things that are different from America, but there are even more similarities. One difference that stands out is all of the walking I’ve done already. I’ve walked more in Canterbury this week than I’ve walked in months at home. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the university from our accommodations, and around each corner, there’s something new and interesting to gaze at. We’ve decided that comfortable walking shoes are a necessity and that we may come back home with calves the size of tree trunks. On the other hand, in America, it seems like I drive almost everywhere I go, and it’s refreshing to get more exercise and take time to really notice my surroundings. The local grocery store is set up very differently than the Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, and it took a group of us about two hours to get the short list of things we needed. Several of us were very disappointed to hear that Ranch dressing and yellow mustard are hard to come by in Canterbury.

Another difference that really stood out to me was the Freshers’ Fayre, which is an introduction to different societies and clubs that students are encouraged to join. One of the groups that I signed up for is centered on learning self-defense, which is something that I think would be an awesome addition at MacMurray. Also, there were several booths that offered information about support services, such as mental health services and support groups for students who identify as LGBTQ. We were greeted by so many different sports teams and academic clubs that were eager to have us join, and it was a great experience. Another helpful service that CCCU offers is 24/7 security with several stations placed all over campus and even at the accommodations that are off-campus. Personally, it is very comforting to know that I can reach security at any time, especially since I am living in a place that is so unfamiliar to me. 

Similarly to MacMurray, we have met people from all over the United States as well as people from different countries. For example, there is a group of girls from New York who live next door and we’ve also made friends from Japan. Everywhere we go we are exposed to different cultures and accents that we have never been exposed to before. There are also a variety of restaurants that can’t be found in the States, and I’ve learned that I really enjoy fish and chips.  Although there are many options of places to eat, you can still find McDonald’s and Subway nearly anywhere you go, and many of the restaurants in Canterbury offer a selection of items that are vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.

Overall, Canterbury seems to be a city that is striving to be inclusive and welcoming to all different kinds of people. Both America and England are in political and economic turmoil, which is something that I’ve had the opportunity to discuss with a few students who are from England. Despite the wide range of opinions about government, one of the wonderful things that England and America have in common is the freedom to voice whatever opinion one might have without persecution. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other students and hearing their opinions on the American government and their own government.

 There are so many things that differ from good ole’ Illinois, but the kindness of the people I have met is very much the same. The staff at CCCU and the students I’ve already met have been so welcoming – it reminds me of home a lot and the unique Midwestern hospitality. Throughout this week, I’ve come to the realization that I have plenty of room for improvement.  Whether it is learning how to make meals that are healthier than microwavable spaghetti loops or being responsible for setting goals of my own, there are many things that I can learn from this experience. This week has also made me very thankful for the other MacMurray students who are taking on this adventure with me. It’s helpful to have people who I can talk to about missing my family and the fears related to starting classes soon. I’m so excited to see what this semester will entail, and I am so thankful that MacMurray provided me with this opportunity to grow and learn in an environment that is outside of my comfort zone.

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