A journey overseas: preparing for a new life

By Phil Collins

With two weeks to go, the reality of leaving the country is starting to set in. Believe it or not, this revelation hit me after returning from a campus visit last week. School was in full swing, the quad was buzzing with activity, and I saw my friends between their classes. I saw their new apartments and dorm rooms, their new roommates, their new lives. Then I came back and went to work. I realized it wouldn’t be long before the time came for me to venture into the sophomore year of college.

Of course, this year will be very different for me. The farthest from home I’ve ever been is Hawaii (some people I’ve talked to consider this out of the country, others do not) and here I am getting ready for an entire school year in England.

How does one prepare for such an experience?

Aside from all those international details (getting a passport, visa, etc), it is not all that different than getting ready for freshman year. I am preparing for the unknown and trying to find out as much about it as I can before I get there. ÿ

From what I have found out, everything is different (obviously). Even so, I imagine things will actually be about ten times more different than I expect. I will be living the dorm life again, with one roommate. Who is he? Where is he from? I do not know yet. One thing I do know is that since I’ll be in a University of Nottingham dorm, he could be anyone from anywhere. ÿ

Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s September and he doesn’t even know who his roommate is? Well, I have already learned that in Europe, people are not in a hurry. The urgency to get everything done as quickly as possible simply does not exist as it does here.ÿThe information will get here when it gets here.

In the meantime, I’m moving forward in the process of leaving. And it really is a process; saying goodbye to familiar faces, places and the normalcy of American life, reading and re-reading the countless pages I’ve received from the study abroad office and figuring out how I’m going to fit my life into two checked bags and a carry-on. ÿ

I’m certainly glad that I know not to bring a hair dryer because apparently they do not function over there even with a converter. Speaking of converters, the expenses are going to pile up fast when I first get there. Apparently converters are less expensive to buy in England than here (I’m not sure how that is possible since it takes nearly two dollars to make a pound, but I trust people who have been there). ÿ

I will also be the proud owner of a new cell phone, which will force me to figure out how to dial those phone numbers. Add that to all the necessities that won’t quite squeeze into my luggage, and well let’s just say my credit card company will be hoping I finally let that interest rate kick in. ÿ

One of my favorite parts of starting a new school year has always been choosing new classes. At the University of Illinois we have an incredibly easy and efficient way of doing this. The University of Nottingham is quite different. First of all, I don’t register until I arrive. When I do, I’ll have to physically go to each department that I want to take a class in and register in person. ÿ

At first, this sounded like a hassle, but I’m actually looking forward to it. It will force me to get out there and hopefully start to learn my way around campus. From looking at the campus map, I can tell it is well organized. All the dorms are in one area, with most of the class buildings in an area nearby. ÿ

More than anything, I’m excited about going. I’ve been looking forward to this since October and now I’m at the point of just wanting to get there already. Two weeks to go, a thousand things to do.