Heather studied abroad with World Endeavors at Edge Hill University in Northern England.
Heather was a junior—an education major at Vanguard University in Orange County, California–when she spent a semester abroad with World Endeavors at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, England. Persuaded by a boyfriend who had always wanted to travel, the semester was to be Heather’s first experience abroad. The original plan had been to study in Scotland, but late registration and a shrewd financial analysis combined to shift her destination a bit further south, to Northern England.
“At first there was a bit of a culture shock,” said Heather, “with the accent and people driving on the opposite side of the road—but everyone was very warm and very friendly.”
Part of the culture shock Heather experienced involved getting used to a different academic structure. Whereas American college classes generally meet every day, classes at Edge Hill were arranged into two “blocks”—a morning block and an afternoon block. Classes in each block would meet once a week. Another adjustment: no homework and no tests. Instead, there were papers. Seven of them, said Heather: two longer ones (12 pages) and five shorter ones (4-5 pages). “I’ve never been in the library so much,” said Heather, whose studies included a paper on how play affects children.
And yet spending a lot of time in the library isn’t so bad when the campus is beautiful. With a student body of 10,000, the campus is quaint and relatively small. From the library to the big pond to the campus bar, “everything is within walking distance,” said Heather.
Even the nearby town of Ormskirk is within a 10-minute walk of the campus. The small town contains some shops, pubs, a grocery store, and a train and bus station, and every Saturday there is a small fair. For the city-minded craving shopping, museums, and Beatles memorabilia, Liverpool is 1/2 hour away by train. “We even went to Manchester once or twice,” said Heather.
During the three-week semester break, Heather traveled in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, and Scotland. “It was amazing to be able to say I traveled to six countries in one semester,” she said. She warns, however, that most of the British students go home for the break, and so it helps to have travel buddies lined up ahead of time—whether they be other Americans or exchange students from other countries.
That is not to say that her British mates were fair-weather friends. “We watched soccer games, had karaoke night, hung out at the pubs…I went home with a (British) friend one weekend, and over to another’s house where his mom cooked us dinner.” Heather has one very close friend in England that she still talks to once a week. And two of her friends have already come to California to visit. “They think you know and hang out with the cast of ‘The OC,” laughed Heather.
Her advice to others going to Ormskirk? “Do not bring a blow dryer or a flat iron. Not even with an adapter. It will blow a fuse.” She speaks from experience.