[Laura Slingo | Contributing Writer]
Studying in another country was always going to be an extreme learning curve. However, even though I have only been in California for three months, I can safely say that is a huge understatement.
At Cal State Long Beach, the way of life is exactly like it seems. In all of my classes I sit on those individual desk and chair combos, everyone is super laid back in the constant 28°C heat, and I go to house parties with many red cups.
Studying at CSULB also seems like a step back in time. The grading system has changed and instead of praying for 60% and a 2:1, you hope to get 90% and an A. In addition, the work itself is like going back to college especially in terms of difficulty. I have written a fair few essays since I have been here and not once have I had to include secondary resources.
What has been a pain to adjust to in terms of studying is the American English spelling and punctuation differences. A friend of mine studying with me out here from Herts genuinely had written across the top of a submitted essay ‘DO NOT USE BRITISH ENGLISH’. It’s official; out here we have to morph into an American. And in case you are wondering, yes, I have weekly pop quizzes too.
Being constantly surrounded by Americans has obviously led to a slight change in vocabulary whether we want to change it or not. I genuinely now say going to ‘school’ or ‘class’ rather than ‘university’ or ‘lecture’; I say ‘do you want gas money’ as opposed to ‘petrol money’ and yes I now go to a ‘grocery store’ rather than a ‘supermarket’.
It hit me last week how much of a Californian I had become when I noticed the great expanse of my sandals collection and when I walked home from class as 10pm – yes classes can finish that late – and realised I was pretty cold even though it was only 18°C.
So, not only does California have great weather, but great beaches too. Although you don’t necessarily have to go to the beach all the time to relax, more often than not I sit by the pool in my back garden. American’s are quite shocked when I tell them that basically nobody in England has a pool in their back garden. This I was surprised at. Surely they know how cold and rainy it gets in England? Well put it this way, I had to explain to a bunch of people the difference between England and Britain as they thought Britain didn’t exist anymore.
California has numerous attractions all of which I will not be able to see. A year out here whilst studying is not enough time. However, from Long Beach it takes an hour on the metro train to reach Los Angeles. Therefore I have been to the Chinese Theater, taken a tour around Beverley Hills and some renowned spots in Hollywood and also been to Universal Studios horror night on Halloween. If you’re a Walking Dead fan I highly recommend Universal!
I won’t lie, as amazing as it is in California it is really hard too. Fortunately around 18 students from Herts are at CSULB this year so I have not been completely alone. Studying abroad is more than worth it, but honestly, I’m counting down the days till I fly home for Christmas.