Horns meet world. World meet Autumn. Autumn Chidester. Autumn is a pre-med Biology major at UT who spent her Spring in the UK at the University of Nottingham! Autumn participated in the exchange program in Nottingham.
When people find out I studied abroad in England, the first question they ask is, “Oh, were you in London?” I hesitantly reply with a no and prepare my speech of why I chose to study in Nottingham (often called Notts) instead of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Nottingham is a mid-size city in the East Midlands, most famous for its links to the legend of Robin Hood, Nottingham Castle, and lace-making. While Nottingham isn’t London with all of the museums, glamorous events, and famous boroughs and sites you see in movies and books, Notts is a traditional English town that still follows English cultural norms. While globalization has transformed London into a diverse, global city, Nottingham is still tucked away in the middle of England, surrounded by small villages and sheep-filled fields, where things are much slower-paced, and where, I feel, you experience the true England.
Nottingham is still tucked away in the middle of England, surrounded by small villages and sheep-filled fields, where things are much slower-paced, and where, I feel, you experience the true England.
I arrived in Notts on a Friday afternoon, and after unpacking my one suitcase and organizing my small dorm room, I decided to go wander around and buy food. While walking down the pedestrian only street, I was surprised to see all of the stores closed. It was around 6 PM on a weekday and pharmacies, bakeries, clothing stores, etc. were all empty and dark. Then I came up to the grocery store, and it was CLOSED as well. I was bewildered – how was I supposed to get food? Aren’t all supermarkets expected to stay open late to accommodate working people? This was the first of many small, cultural shocks I encountered while studying abroad. I had been to England before for vacation and figured that Nottingham would be pretty similar to Austin; however, I soon came to realize that England and the U.S. are two drastically different places and are truly divided by a common language.
One of the great things about Notts was its central location. By train, it was only two hours from London, two-and-a-half hours from Manchester, and extremely close to some beautiful national parks and quaint, English villages. I lived in the international self-catered dorm, and my study abroad friend group consisted of myself, two Aussies, two Swedes, a Canadian, Dutchman, and a Dane.
The University of Nottingham also gives you a month-long Easter break!!!
We spent our weekends either exploring Nottingham and Sherwood Forest and drinking pints at the oldest pub in Europe called Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, or we were venturing off on daytrips and weekend trips to nearby sites and towns.
Over the course of 6 months, we did a weekend trip to Paris (took the overnight bus – so convenient!), went to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, went on days trips to Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Lincoln, the Peak District, and Bath, and a week-long hiking trip in the Lake District after final exams. The University of Nottingham also gives you a month-long Easter break!!! The break is meant to be for you to have ample preparation time for your final exams, but as an international student, it’s the perfect time to go backpacking in mainland Europe and explore around (beware: grades might suffer as a result.).
Studying abroad not only allowed me to travel around Europe and experience a new culture, but it also allowed me to form friendships with people from all over the world and learn about their cultures and countries as well. Without Nottingham and study abroad, I would be missing out on these unique friendships that have deeply enriched my life.
If you enjoyed reading about Autumn’s experience in Nottingham, check out the program that got her there! Make sure you’re looking at the “University-wide Exchange” part of the site unless, of course, you’re a law student. Come visit us to see how you can go abroad like Autumn did. And, as always, check in with us next week to see where in the world our Horns pop up next!