Student leaves England behind to experience beef jerky, Oreos and carved pumpkins


Alannah Leonard

York St. John, England 


Studying abroad wasn’t an opportunity I was going to miss out on. A new continent, culture and everything was just too exciting. I’ve always wanted to go as far away as possible.

As time flew by, and there were only days left at home before my adventure here started, I wasn’t getting cold feet — despite the fact that my sister told me I was going to come home fat. My mum said I would never come home because I would fall madly in love with a rich Texan, and my dad said we weren’t going to pay for a flight back and I’d have to stay here illegally and get deported back home for free. I couldn’t care less, I couldn’t wait, I was so excited. I was counting down everything; last Monday at home, last cinema outing, last night out with my friends, last wine and dinner with my parents. I wasn’t upset to be leaving.

As I landed at Logan International, nothing seemed different yet. It was during the drive from Boston to Keene that it started to sink in. Dunkin’ Donuts actually existed. And not just that, but there were American flags everywhere. I started to count them, and one hour in, I had 183 and decided that it was time to stop. There were flags on bridges, cars, and thousands on houses. ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ is what came through my mind. It made me scared to be a foreigner here. I did research before coming here by asking my American friends and browsing the Internet, which already made me uneasy about certain things such as religion, racism and opinions like “America is the best.”

Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo

We moved in a couple of days before the transfer students and the freshmen. For the first few days, we had small lessons about New Hampshire, the education system and social norms. This was preparing us for our stay here. It was nice — it meant that we had some sort of orientation, we could put pieces together.

At first, the other students didn’t really know how to act with us or approach us, some were overly excited and some were worried about a language barrier. But I was just greeting everyone I came across and asking them questions and everything. Now, some of those people are the most important people I’ve met here.

I ask them now, “What were the first things that came to your mind when you found out about us?”

Most of them said they were afraid but decided to have an open mind, and now they’re glad to have met us. “It was a breath of fresh air to talk to people from somewhere else” was one reply, with a few others agreeing with it.

Kelsey, one of my flat mates, said that one of the first things that came to her mind was “Oh shit, we’re in trouble. Europeans don’t shave or shower.” She now admits, “every expectation I had wasn’t at all accurate.” They were all expecting  us to be weird, dirty and rude. Like savages, but we’re not, we’re the same just with a few twists.

“I realize that by knowing you I’m lucky because it’s not an experience many people get to have.”

I get asked questions everyday, such as, “Does sarcasm exist in Europe? To which I reply, “no”.

I convinced one guy that Luxembourg didn’t have electricity. A lot of people don’t ask their questions because they feel like there stupid, but they’re not.

I have questions everyday too and I’m not embarrassed about it. What’s peach cobbler? What does swerve mean? What is a Hunter Hayes?

A lot of them mentioned our funny accents and how even all their friends went on about us and our accents. From our perspective, the accent here is quite flat, one we’re already used to from films and music.

Being here, I have experienced so much. The education system, the living system and the partying system are all different. I still get amazed every time I see something like yellow traffic lights, a pickup truck and food of all types of colors.

I have had my first beef jerky, my first root beer float and my first sip from the famous red solo cup.

Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo

I have learned new words, such as ratchet, swerve and wicked. I’ve learned that it’s okay to walk around in your pajamas during the day and to have your stomach hanging out from a crop top during the night. No one judges you for eating 15 slices of pizza. Skateboards aren’t cool anymore. Oreo’s are delicious when dipped in peanut butter. Whenever we question the reason behind things, the reply always seems to be “This is America.”

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