By Elizabeth White
(WROXTON, ENGLAND) – This semester I am studying abroad at Fairleigh Dickinson’s Wroxton campus, located in Oxfordshire, England about two hours northwest of London.
One of the things I look forward to most as a communications major who is also interested in sociology and psychology, is to see how much The United Kingdom and Europe differs from the United States.
I have been on campus for a few days now, adjusting to English life, but before I moved into school I visited Ireland with my family for eight days.
This was my first visit to Ireland, and I loved it! My father’s side of the family is Irish, so it was awesome to see where my ancestors came from.
One obvious difference between the countries is the currency. Ireland uses the Euro. It was difficult at first to adjust to using the foreign currency, especially the coins. There are more coin denominations when it comes to the Euro compared to American currency.
By the middle of trip, my family had racked up a considerable amount of change – totaling close to 50 Euros.
I hate to say this but we were “those Americans” that paid for almost an entire meal in coins. None of us could easily adjust to using the 1 and 2 Euro coins.
Trying to figure out which coins were which value made paying an embarrassing and sometimes frustrating experience. By the end of our stay, my father would just hold out his hand full of change to the cashier and they would pick out the correct coins.
After a week in Ireland, we flew to London, where we spent three days exploring the city. The subway, or as the British call it, “the tube,” was certainly an interesting experience.
On the train, no one talks and it is completely silent. I didn’t really pick up on this the first few times on the tube, as I chatted with my sister and my dad about our day in London.
It wasn’t until I learned at school a few days later that talking is frowned upon on the tube. It began to make sense that people were giving us funny stares because we were talking.
Once we I made it to Wroxton and settled in, I popped into a local Tesco to get some hand sanitizer. Unable to find any, I asked a salesperson where the hand sanitizer was.
He looked at me like I was nuts, clearly not understanding what exactly hand sanitizer was. After a painstaking minute trying to explain what it was (“It cleans your hands! It has alcohol it it! It kills the germs!”), he said, “You mean hand gel?” and pointed down the aisle to where it was kept.
Who knew that they don’t call it hand sanitizer?
A few days in we went to Banbury, a nearby town, to do some shopping. An FDU van dropped us off in the middle of town and basically said “The mall is that way, good luck.”
I was by myself and had to get school supplies, so naturally I went to Pound Land, where everything is actually a pound!
By this time I had been in Europe for a week so I knew that they weren’t big on plastic bags and that they cost extra. I wasn’t thinking at the time of my purchase, however. The transaction was over and the next customer was inching up before I realized that I forget to ask for a plastic bag. Now I am wandering the streets of Banbury, struggling to carry notebooks, folders, pens and other supplies.
I eventually found a small convenience store where I bought a soda so that I could buy a bag. The lady at the store smirked at me as I shoved my books into the tiny plastic bag.
I learned my lesson, and needless to say, I will be bringing my own bag next time.