Insights From My First Two Weeks in England

I’ve been in Leeds for thirteen days now, and all I can say is wow — INFORMATION OVERLOAD!

I thought I had a decent idea of all the things I’d have to adjust to when I arrived, but I’ve been amazed at how many small differences have taken me aback (like, in what context do I use “cheers?” thanks? excuse me? goodbye? You tell me, I’ve heard it used as all three).

Aside from the slang differences, these are a few topics where I’ve encountered difficulties or had a better experience than expected:

  • money and shopping
  • food
  • housing
  • making friends
  • classes
  • transportation and exploring the city

Keep reading to find out exactly why each of those things are on the list (yes, I’m telling stories, what do you expect?) and stick around to the end for a picture dump from a day out and about Leeds.

1. Coins are valuable money here, keep track of them!

I may or may not have £18 worth of coins sitting on my dresser, just because I’m so used to disregarding them at home and can’t bring myself to use them anywhere.

Instead of dollar bills, England has £1 coins, which means every time I get change I’m stuffing my pockets full of stupid coins. But it’s a fact of life here, and I’ll be okay with it in time I guess…

2. The food actually has a little flavor. It’s a miracle!

I’m on a meal plan with the University (which unfortunately only has one dining hall) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how good the food has been. My only complaint is a little bit of false advertising — the dining hall’s “bacon” is sweet ham (overwhelmingly disappointing).

Side Note: I’ll definitely be doing a post on the best places to eat in Leeds towards the end of the semester, but I couldn’t wait to put in a plug about this incredible brunch place called Laynes Espresso. Best mocha I’ve ever had and darn good pancakes to go with it.

3. These dorms might be crampin’ my style.

My room is pretty nice, all things considered. It has decent space, a lot of storage (too much for the little I brought over), and enough outlets to charge an entire family’s worth of electronic devices. But the decorations are a little dull since I could really only pack pictures.

What really gets me is the extremely small bathroom. And the fact that the lights in it are motion-activated, and go off after only FIVE minutes while I’m in the shower. Like seriously, who actually showers in less than five minutes???

4. The British are not coming, Paul Revere

I’ve got generally good news on the making friends front — there are a ton of international students and the university has put on a good amount of things to help us get to know each other (did someone say a tea party?). I’ve met so many awesome Aussies, Canadians, and other Americans.

However, I came over with the goal of meeting British students and have found out that it’s a lot harder than I expected. I’m only two weeks in, though, so stay tuned for updates.

5. I’m pretty sure these professors are violating the Geneva Convention.

TWO HOUR LECTURES. I sit on an old church pew listening to media theories for almost two hours. It’s terrible. Interesting sometimes, but terrible.

Thankfully, just two of my four classes are that long, and the lectures only meet once a week. Here are the four classes I ended up with:

  • Intro to Communication Theories
  • Journalism Ethics
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Pop Music and the Press

Though I’m a little concerned about my entire grade in a class being one test or essay, from what I’ve seen so far, I think I’ll be ok.

6. Thanks to McDonalds, I know how to get around the city.

Leeds is an older city, already full of old buildings, but as it has grown, they’ve squeezed as many modern buildings in as possible. As a result, the city is somewhat disorganized in places and a little difficult to navigate.

For the first day or two, I’d get lost going anywhere except my dorm or the university union. However, over the first weekend, a couple of us had a mad craving for quarter pounders, and essentially toured the city while looking for the nearest golden arches.

While a bit dirtier than I expected, Leeds is a beautiful city. Here are some pictures I took on our exploration day of the campus and nearby buildings.

That’s all I’ve got for this post! Thanks for reading and hope you’ll come back soon to see what else I’ll be up to!

Liked what you just read and want to hear more about my time abroad? Check out the sidebar for other recent posts or to subscribe to my blog! As always, feel free to comment or reach out to me as well. 

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