Now that seven weeks have passed, it’s time to write another story about my UK journey. I promised myself to journal more often. As much as I enjoy it (well, I try to like it anyway), it has been a bit tough. The clock is ticking, and it feels like I just arrived yesterday. I still can’t believe that I have been on this foreign land for seven weeks.
To be honest, I haven’t seen much of the country that much. My first week was kind of chilled. As soon as the course started, phew, I was overwhelmed. A basket of books on my reading list, research journals, articles for tutorials, and presentations were a bit mind-boggling. Not to mention a bunch of unfriendly academic essays whose deadlines are just around the corner. The fact that I am not a fast reader makes it even more challenging. I guess that’s what I am here for, to challenge my limit not to limit my challenge.
In my seven weeks, I have been to London three times, and explored the city of Chelmsford, where I know my way around very quickly due to its small size. I had a chance to visit University of Kent Medway campus, an hour and a half drive from Chelmsford for a badminton match. I wandered around in a small yet beautiful town called Writtle a couple times. In terms of social life, I went to a local night club once with my college friends only to find out that it’s not my cup of tea. I join volleyball and badminton teams that practice at least twice a week. I participated in international student club organized by the Christian Chaplaincy. I might change my impression as I go along, but here what I think for now:
1. Non-British are dominated
To be politically correct, I refer to non-British people as people are from and born outside of the U.K. The United Kingdom is a diverse country, yes I get that, but I don’t expect to find more non-British than British people in my daily life here. Out of thirty five classmates I have, only ten are UK passport holders. Out of those ten, five were born in other countries which leave five pure British people. Out of three lecturers I have this trimester, two are originally from Tunisia and Greece, and only one is from here. My trip to a local health center was unaspiringly surprising. The doctor that treated me had a Spanish accent.
2. “You alright?” is the most common British phrase.
On my very first day, I looked for a room to rent. It was a fifteen-minute walk from the uni. I met British girl who lived in the house, and she said “you alright?”. I was confused to how the hell she knew that I had just arrived from 30 hours traveling on airplane and bus. I narcissistically said “I am alright, no worries” not that she cared about my condition. It took me some time to figure that the expression “you alright?” is just another way of saying “How are you?”.
Other things that I noticed is that British people say “lovely” a lot. “I am from Indonesia”, I responded to a friend’s question. She then said “lovely” even though she had no idea where Indonesia is. “Cheers” is used to thank people, and British people say this a lot as well. After giving direction, for example, a British person will say “cheers mate”.
3. The weather is not too bad
I can justify that British people talk about weather a lot. The weather is actually not too bad. It’s not as cold as I anticipated. In fact, this kind of weather is perfect for me. This impression pretty sure will change as winter is coming. Also, living in southern Britain is an advantage because it is warmer compared to the rest of the country.
4. Various accents
First of all, the U.K. has three languages namely English, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic which I just learned recently. Before coming here, the only accent I heard was the Received Pronunciation spoken by BBC news broadcaster or British English teachers on Youtube. When I first arrived, I was exposed to Essex accent, which I found funny. From up way North in Scotland all the way down to Southern England, there are about seventeen different accents, according to Anglophenia. I am sure there are a lot more varieties.
Scottish accent is hardest to understand for me. For my English learner friends, check the comedian Kevin Bridges’s video, and see if you can understand his accent.