Being an international student: USA vs. UK University

I was halfway in to my second year at university in Ohio, USA when I received a phone call from my mom asking how I would feel about moving to England for my dad’s job. One week later it was confirmed that we were moving, and three days after that I was moving out of my uni accommodation to prepare for the big move to the UK.

Skip ahead 9 months and here I am, my first year at BU as an international student. I live at home with my family, but I have noticed many differences between the UK and the USA. These are the three biggest differences I notice between university life in the USA and UK:

We don’t have to buy text books!

In the states, I had to buy multiple textbooks and they were insanely expensive. I spent about $500 per semester, that is about $1,000 per year (about £760). That may be the biggest, and best, difference.

No general education classes.

Back in the USA students take general education classes. Pretty much, you have to take very random classes that do not really relate to your program. I had to take a math, art, physical education, and politics class. Although they helped me gain general knowledge, they were not very useful towards my media degree.

The accommodation!

BU accommodation, compared to where I was in the USA, is wonderful. Back in the states most people share one tiny room with another student and we would live on “floors”. There are about 40 people on each floor, and that is not even the worst part. All 40 people have to share one bathroom. The bathrooms have about 4 toilets and 4 showers between the 40 people. To make is worse, the cleaning staff wouldn’t come to clean the bathrooms on the weekends. When I look at the US and UK accommodations I find it amazing how clean and big the UK accommodations are.

Buffalo, NY

The last picture I took of my city, Buffalo, NY, before I moved to the UK

I'm at Bournemouth University as an international student

Bournemouth beach – where I am now! Photo by Hannah Gibbins

People always ask me what I miss from home, and here it is.

I’m from a small city called Buffalo, New York… no, it’s not New York City. It’s about 8 hours east from NYC. Where I am from there is a large chain coffee shop called Tim Hortons. It is something that I miss a lot from home but I have found the coffee here is so much better, so it makes up for the loss. Another thing I miss is country music and taking a drive. There are a lot of fields and farms back home, it is pretty rural. I have a little convertible Volvo, and we put the top down and blast country music while we drive through the back roads. We sometimes do it here, but it’s not the same. Something that I also miss is having my family and friends close by. It’s hard not being able to drive to my grandparents’ house for a home cooked dinner, or meet up with my best friend for a day of shopping.

I am finding that the friends I have made at BU have become like family though, and they are making these feelings worth it. Although I miss certain things from home, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’m happy to call BU and the UK my new home!