January 30, 2012, by Mark

Lost in Translation: An American Education

My name is Mark Richardson. I am somewhat of a second year pioneer, being the first student from Nottingham University studying BA (Hons) Humanities to study abroad. I have just begun a semester at the University of Virginia in the United States of America and over the next few months I hope to share my experiences of American education with you.

My journey into the heart of America began in New York, a place I haven’t returned to for over two years. Staying with friends I haven’t seen for a couple of years I was treated to a view across New York harbour where the Statue of Liberty holds her flame of freedom high and proud.

Having been a tourist in the city that never sleeps before I opted this time instead for the people, cuisine and shopping. One of the highlights of which was creating my own custom flat cap in a shop called ‘Lids’, the hat features my initials sprawled across the front and the Union Jack resting neatly on the back. I also returned to my former employers Christie’s and observed a high profile Interiors auction where bids reached serious amounts of money.

Eventually the time came for me to leave New York and head south. Taking a silver Amtrak train I passed through the ‘City of Brotherly Love’, Philadelphia as well as the nations capital, Washington DC. Chatting to fellow passengers along the way I heard tales of sons and daughters fighting for their nation abroad and also received advice on everything from where to ski to which beer to drink.

Train delays meant my arrival in Charlottesville was shrouded in darkness with rain adding insult to injury. I took a cab with other students and a friendly sole that had by chance recently visited Nottingham Uni helped me collect a key and walked with me to my halls of residence, my home for the coming months. The halls are comprised of a mix of exchange students from all corners of the globe and American students, with my roommate being the latter.

My first week at the University of Virginia has been plagued with admin, form filling and enrolling on classes. As I began to get my bearings I discovered more of this stunning university founded by the third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

Whilst I speak the same language I have entertained a serious shift in culture. Being lost in translation has become a regular feature of conversations as well as being quizzed about all that is British. Furthermore I find myself intrigued by Fraternity life, Fast-food lifestyles and the infamous Red Cups.

Studying abroad in the United States of America is going to be like nothing else.

– Mark J Richardson

Posted in 2011-Mark