When asked her favorite part about being in England, Emmy Koons, a junior International Affairs and Spanish and Portuguese double major, replied, “The accents!”
Koons has been studying in Norwich, England for the past month. An international student at the University of East Anglia, she’ll be focusing on international development for six months while travelling around the UK and Europe.
Like in Boulder, Koons finds it important to balance social and alone time while in Norwich. “With my friends, we usually go to a pub downtown Norwich or hang out at the pub on campus or we get lunch somewhere,” she said. “Alone, I do a lot of walking around and travelling in the area. I’m doing a Zumba class at the rec center, and I’ve joined the UEA gospel choir.”
Having spent three years abroad while she was younger, Koons has a pretty solid anti-homesickness program in place. “At first, I spend some time remembering home: looking at pictures, Skyping or emailing or Facebooking with friends and family back home, and eating American food,” she explained. “Then I try to spend some time remembering why I came: hanging out with new friends, getting out and walking and exploring Norwich and the surrounding areas.”
Emmy is grateful there are a few other CU students at her university in Norwich. “It’s nice to be around other US students when you’re feeling out of place, but it’s even nicer to hang out with someone from CU,” she said.
Koons has spent a lot of time travelling. “I travel somewhere every weekend here in the UK,” she said. This semester is a popular one for study abroad, so Koons plans to visit other friends around Europe, from Dublin to Paris. She also plans to re-visit her roots: “After exam period, I’m headed to Barcelona, where I lived as a kid, for two weeks before heading home.”
While she has experienced a few different forms of culture shock, something Koons has really had to adapt to is the way driving on the left side of the road affects everyday life. “As a result of driving on the left side, everything else gets switched,” she said. “Bikes ride on the left side of the street. People walk on the left side of the sidewalk, so you have to pass people on the left if you don’t want to run into them.” This cultural change results in even escalators being switched.
Many students abroad find some comfort in befriending other people from around the world, and Koons is no exception. “Most of my friend group is other international students,” she explained. “A lot of them are from the US, but I also have met some people from Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the Philippines.”
She’s also been able to meet some English students, despite the challenges that come with being the “outsider.”
“I have made a few local friends,” she said. “Everyone in all my classes knows each other for years. This can make it a little hard to get into the ‘group’ but once you do, the amount of people you know increases dramatically.”
Graced with previous experience living abroad and friends all over the UK and Europe, Koons has enjoyed the past month and is looking forward to the rest of her time in Norwich.
Jessica Ryan is a junior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about study abroad experiences once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.