December 12, 2014, by International students
“Eyup me duck!” Culture shocks and pleasant surprises
After graduating with a degree in Pharmacy in 2005 from Ghana, I worked for 7 years in Korle bu Teaching Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in my country. Even though I longed to further my education with an international second degree, the cost of studying in the UK was prohibitively high and out of reach for me. It was a happy day for me therefore when I received a 100% Developing Solutions Scholarship to study at The University of Nottingham, one of the UK’s topmost universities.
Arriving in Nottingham, I was immediately struck by how cold the weather was. Coming from a tropical country with a mean temperature of about 25⁰C throughout the year, the 10 -14⁰C of Nottingham in September gave me a big chill. The international students’ week organised the week before the school term was a wonderful event. I made great friends from all over the world and got introduced to English cuisine. I must admit the food tasted a bit bland since Ghanaian food is usually hot and spicy. I was amazed by how green and large the university was. The student ambassadors took us round the University Park as well the Jubilee and Sutton Bonnington Campuses. Even though the week passed by in a blur, the information and advice given have proven extremely useful and relevant.
The culture shocks came thick and fast then and continue even now. When someone tells you ‘it’s only a 5 minute walk’, be prepared to walk for 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe my legs are short or maybe I’m just lazy but I walked more during my first week than I had done the two years prior. I could ‘feel’ myself getting fitter and fitter!!!! The Nottingham accent took a while getting used to and I can’t wait to use my favourite expression when I go back home, “Eyup me duck!!” I am yet to understand why passengers in the buses insist on getting up and moving to the front of the bus before it parks especially since they sometimes get thrown around. I am also trying hard to fall in love with drinking so much tea and coffee. Saying thank you to the bus driver is the most amazingly pleasant shock to me. There are also free buses linking campuses and hospitals.
The course has been both challenging and exciting so far. There is a great mix of people from different countries and backgrounds which makes for interesting discussions and debates. The studying styles and methods here are extremely different from what I know. I find it so weird calling lecturers by their first names and I still cannot get my head around the assortment of help and support available to students. There is help for everything from dyslexia to anorexia to depression. Having to make appointments for everything is yet another culture shock. Back home in Ghana, you just knock on the door and enter if it is open.
It’s been a great adventure so far and I’m looking forward to exploring Nottingham and the UK much more before I leave. I’m yet to visit a pub, a nightclub, ride a canoe on the lake, visit Bath and Stonehenge or eat a proper English pudding. I also plan to watch my beloved Chelsea live in an English premier league match. I have however been to the historic city of York and the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds. I have also tasted the famous the English scones and prefer to put the cream before the jam.
Helena Owusu, an international student from Ghana studying a Master of Public Health at The University of Nottingham.