Chatham Scholars take Cheltenham

Name: Logan Rost

Age: 20

Hometown: Pulaski, Tennessee

On January 9th, 2012 Jessica Bullins and I began our five-month study abroad venture in England.  It’s been a whirlwind since we set foot on the plane.  Let me see if I can, at least partially, convey what our lives have been like since that day.

We live in coed dorm of around 100 students, which is divided up into flats.  Six British students and the RA (who is actually an American study abroad student who ended up permanently transferring here) live on our flat with us.  Luckily, we were quickly adopted by our flat-mates, and easily fell into life here. Each flat has a kitchen, which we put to good use.  Once or twice a week, we will eat out, but the normal day finds us cooking our own meals and taking turns to prepare the family dinners we all share.  Our rooms are singles, with an in-suite bathroom.  We have our own bathrooms?! After two months, I still don’t believe it (until I have to clean it…then I believe it).  The first week saw me walking down the hall and pausing in confusion as I realized that the bathroom was actually in my room.

Here, room doors aren’t left open.  It was strangely lonely to not have my door open and be able to yell down the hall to someone.  Now that I’ve adjusted to the extra effort it takes to go knock on a door and then ask a question, it doesn’t seem as lonely.  The only common room space available is the kitchen; needless to say, our flat spends quite a bit of time hanging out amongst the cutlery and plates.  Our dorm is about half a mile from the town centre, and we walk everywhere.  Public transportation is easily accessible and relatively inexpensive, but why not reduce our carbon footprint when we can? Plus, I feel more connected to Cheltenham when I can actually experience the sights and sounds of the town.  I realized I have started to refer to my single room in Regency Halls, Fishers Lane as home.  And that’s exactly what it is.  Jess and I have both settled in wonderfully.

We are studying at the University of Gloucestershire, which consists of three different campus locations.  All of my classes are located at Francis Close Hall campus, which is about a 15-minute walk from my dorm.  It’s a strange thing to no longer leave five minutes before class and still make it on time.  But I can’t complain.  I don’t have to make the thirty-minute walk or bus ride to the other campuses.  I have five classes, which I attend once a week for two-hour periods each.  I only have two assignments for each class; an essay due near midterms, and an exam or presentation at the end of the semester.

The work load is focused on individual work, with preparation for lectures being reading intensive.  It’s obviously much different from what I am used to at Salem, but I have no problem using my extra time to explore England.  The majority of my classes are held in large lecture halls with somewhere between fifty and sixty students in the course.  It’s slightly intimidating when my Southern accent comes ou, and fifty pairs of eyes are immediately staring at me.  Our lecturers (teachers aren’t called professors or doctors) will occasionally “translate” terms for us, and they seem to enjoy having study abroad students in their courses.  When we turn in assignments, we print out a cover sheet with a bar code on it, and then go put it the assignment drop-box.  Wait…you want me to turn in an essay worth 50% of my grade to a box that receives all assignments for the university? I don’t know how comfortable I am with that. Ah well.

Our free time normally catches us gallivanting around town.  Whether it be outside at the park enjoying the rare sunny days, having a giant snowball fight, attending open mic nights at the student union, or playing a part in a friend’s video production assignment, we are experiencing Cheltenham to the fullest.  Of course, we aren’t neglecting the rest of England.  So far, we’ve traveled to Bath (home to the Roman baths), Stonehenge, Salisbury (the cathedral holds one of the remaining copies of the Magna Carta), Portsmouth, Liverpool (birthplace of the Beatles!), and Windsor Castle.  There’s so much to see, and we already have plans for more adventures.

It has been almost two months since I arrived in England. I never thought time would pass so quickly.  I have been lucky to gain a family here, and though I am eager to see my Salem family again, I do not look forward to the day when I have to board a plane back to the States. But what am I saying?! I still have three glorious months in which to leave my mark on England and let England leave her mark on me. I excitedly await the possibilities.

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