Vicky Richards- BA Media Production and Anthropology
My name is Vicky Richards and I’m from a state called Connecticut, in the United States. I am in my last year of undergraduate studies and I’m here at UCLAN for my last semester. I am a social activist, and a lot of my academic work focuses on structural inequality in large societies. Back home I study Media Studies and Anthropology, but I’m mostly finished with both degree requirements, so here I’m taking courses in History and Sociology because I found the topics to be interesting.
It’s definitely a challenge coming from the American school system to the English one, because I’m used to being graded on more assignments (class participation, attendance, two or three essays, a large paper, and a few small exams usually) and not having my grade rely on just two or three items of coursework. That being said, I’m also taking classes in a discipline I’m not used to, so it’s a bit more challenging in that way. Overall, though, the other students in my classes are very nice, and since everyone takes mostly the same classes, there’s a good relationship between everyone and it makes classes more fun.
I chose UCLAN because my university, Central Connecticut State University, has a partnership with UCLAN, so I pay my tuition and fees to them but I get to come here. Last year my best friend Chelsea (who is also here with me) made some very good friends who go to UCLAN and live in Preston and so we partly decided to come here to be with them again, but mostly because we just always wanted to study abroad. We picked UCLan because we had some familiar faces already, and since we’re from America and not studying any foreign languages, it was honestly just easier to pick a place like England where we wouldn’t have to worry about that aspect.
Before I came to UCLan I was really nervous. Back home I would be in my senior year with all of my friends, and my classes would have been really easy, and I would be experiencing the last bits of my college career at home in a familiar place. I wasn’t sure if it was the right time to go, and part of me wishes I had chosen to study abroad last year, but this is still one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever had and I don’t regret anything. I was also scared because I didn’t know if Chelsea would be coming with me and I got nervous about being able to make friends. That has definitely been really hard, but we got involved with the Erasmus Student Network here and have met some really really cool, very nice people.
Once I got the UK, I still couldn’t believe it. I had always wanted to travel and this was the first time I’ve ever been this far out of America, and for the longest amount of time too. Even though there are a lot of similarities to my home, there are a lot of tiny differences that make it very obvious that I’m in a foreign country. There’s a lot more diversity within Preston, and also in the student body which makes me so happy, because I come from a pretty small and average town.
I haven’t done much travelling yet, but now that I’ve been here about two months I’m finally started. I’ve gone to Liverpool twice and Amsterdam once, and now I’m getting ready to go to Ireland and Scotland, with more trips planned later in the semester. I’ve finally gotten the hang of classes for the most part so I’m really trying to get my assignments done efficiently and be able to relax and go on adventures. It’s great that everything is so close to get to, and being able to exchange Pounds for Euros definitely has its benefits when travelling! Other than that, I’m really trying to take this time to learn more about myself and the world around me before I decide where I’m going to settle down and what I’m going to do with my degree after school. It’s a lot more alone time than I’m used to, since all my friends and family for the most part are back in America, so I’m using it to do the things I never had time to do before.
For anyone who wants to come to UCLan, I would definitely say that it’s a good idea. It’s not in a place like London or Paris, but I think that’s what makes it better. Things are affordable, and since Preston is a university town there will always be other people our age around, and things to do at night. If possible, make friends with someone who has a car! That’s one thing I really miss about being home, because we could just pick up and take a road trip whenever we wanted, but here we have to rely on walking or taxis or trains, and that’s only going to get you so far if you don’t have the money to spend. And also spend a lot of time at Equator café because they’re the nicest people with the best cappuccinos—and now they sell ice cream! Join societies and go to events that the school puts on because that’s the easiest way to meet people, rather than relying on your own abilities to make friends. For someone who’s not very good at asking classmates to hang out after lessons are done, going to an event where people want to talk about what they’re doing and what they’re interested in is the perfect excuse to put yourself out there. Don’t be nervous! Being nervous will make you miss out on the best experiences. Also, keep a blog, a diary, a scrapbook, devote an instagram page, or something so that you can chronicle your time spent away from home—you’ll definitely want these memories when you’re older. I started a blog www.vyourselfblog.wordpress.com!