The day finally arrived- here I am in Nottingham, England!
It’s been a CRAZY couple days moving in. There’s so much going on, and honestly, it’s not all that organized so there is chaos. I was lucky, though, to have Gillian to drive me here, and help me stop and buy the things I need like bedding and laundry detergent. It was incredible how tiny my pile of things was for moving into my dorm this year, compared to what I had last year! We drove up from Harpenden on Thursday, and today, Saturday, all the non-international students are moving in.
I was SO surprised when I got to my dorm, because the room is amazing! There is so much cupboard and drawer space, with cute little shelves and a huge corkboard (which I promptly covered with the million pictures I brought from home, although I think I have a genuine thumb injury from pushing in the pins). I have a sink, a good sized bed, a huge desk, and even a mini fridge! Unfortunately, I have to deal with a shared bathroom for the hall… and it’s coed! So gross/weird to me but I guess I’ll get used to it.
After arriving, I met up with the one other girl that’s on exchange from Oregon State (so thank goodness I had at least one friend, even if it was obligatory) and we went through some of the registration process together. We had arrived earlier than all the other normal students, as international students for the Welcome Programme, so we had meal vouchers instead of normal meals in our halls. The main building of the campus, where there is food, coffee, the bookstore, grocery stores, and even a bar (so strange!!), is called the Portland Building! Gillian said she thinks its because of the type of stone it’s built from, but no matter how it got its name, I definitely feel like it’s a little bit of home.
We toured campus a little bit, but it is HUGE! It’s incredibly beautiful, though, and literally like a giant park. There are trees everywhere (the Oregonian in me is SO satisfied), beautiful grassy fields and gardens scattered between buildings, and even a lake! Everything is quite spread out, which is nice because of the scenery, and definitely will help me get lots of exercise.
We met a girl from Australia at dinner the first night, and the next day, met a few more people as well! It was so strange being in the hall with only other international students moved in, because the whole hallway was so silent and a little creepy! I left my door open with music playing hoping someone would wander in, but instead, I think I frightened a guy across the hall from me because I lept out of my room when I heard any sign of life. We’re friends now, but not a great first impression. I met a few more people from my hall the second night, when a short fire alarm test went off and everyone emerged from their rooms. It was great for me after I realized I wasn’t about to lose all the stuff I just unpacked in a dorm fire my second night.
On Friday, a few of us went on a short city tour. It was interesting and fun overall, but also a little awkward- probably because it was lead by Robin Hood (who never broke character). If you don’t know- apparently Robin Hood originated/lived in Nottingham. I did learn a lot of interesting history about the city, and saw its castle (that’s not really a castle anymore). Also, I learned that Nottingham has the most man made caves in all of Europe! Seems to me like a pretty random fact, but we walked through two separate pubs on the tour, one of which was carved into caves, and the other with two levels of caves below the bar. There is sandstone rock everywhere which is really easy to carve into, apparently. The town itself looks quite interesting, though, and I’m excited to get to see more of it!
It’s really cool meeting people from all over the world- the guy across the hall from me is from University of Nottingham’s Malaysian campus, and I also met people from China, Canada, Ghana, and India. Crazily enough, I also met someone who goes to Linfield, and a girl from Seattle! That sure made the world seem pretty small. There are a few other Americans in the international student group but we were definitely the minority. It’s so interesting talking to people from such different places- things I never knew that would be different between cultures and places are actually SO different! I learned everything from the school year starting in January in Australia, instead of September, to eating rice with chopsticks in China but hands in Malaysia. I sat down at dinner with people from four different countries and we talked for two hours without realizing how much time had passed, because it was so incredible hearing everyone’s different stories and perspectives! Everyone had a different opinion of everything new in Nottingham because we all had different backgrounds… Like I said, I really learned a lot and it was so amazing to talk to such a diverse group of people.
After dinner Friday, a group of us went to Mooch, which is the bar in the basement of the Portland Building. As an American who doesn’t drink, this is pretty wild to me. The drinking culture is SO different- more people drink because it is legal, obviously, and it is involved with basically every social event, even if they’re sponsored by the school! Tonight, the bar in my hall will be open too! I don’t think I’ll get used to that very easily to be honest. Mooch was quite a fun place, though, with lots of great seating, music, pool, and food.
Tonight (Saturday), since all the other freshers are currently moving in, we have our first hall dinner with everyone! Since I will be eating two meals a day in my hall, I’m definitely trying to channel my inner extrovert (I think that’s an oxymoron) and keep socializing. I’m quite excited for all that’s in store, now that I’ve dipped my toe in the water. It’s so crazy that I’m finally actually in Nottingham, after months of planning and preparing! I’m so thankful for how well everything has seemed to work out for me so far, with being able to come over to England early and making friends. Bring it on, Nottingham!
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?