Why did I choose BU?
It was the warmth and beckoning nature of BU staff and representatives that swayed my decision in choosing BU as my university of postgraduate study. They were the first university to get back to me with a decision, and as an international student, I felt as if I was a priority of Bournemouth University. I wanted to choose a school that I wanted and that wanted me, and I knew that Bournemouth was a perfect fit.
What about Bournemouth?
The town of Bournemouth is, in itself, an entirely different treasure. It’s big enough that you are never left without anything to do, yet small enough that you can simply walk everywhere you want. With the sound of seagulls cawing into the early morning through the crack of my window, and the smell of the coast intertwined with the crisp wind, Bournemouth is the “college town” that I always dreamed about during my undergraduate years.
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Read Cecily's stories
An American in England
Before accepting my BU offer
Despite wanting to live in England for most of my life, I only recently discovered that I have a passion for forensic anthropology, or, the study of human bones to assist in solving crimes. Therefore, Bournemouth University was more than a perfect fit. The MSc Forensic Anthropology program enticed me to apply, and the town of Bournemouth affirmed my decision to accept.
It was the warmth and beckoning nature of BU staff and representatives that swayed my decision in choosing BU as my university of postgraduate study. They were the first university to get back to me with a decision, and as an international student, I felt as if I was a priority of Bournemouth University. I wanted to choose a school that I wanted and that wanted me, and I knew that Bournemouth was a perfect fit. When I received the email stating that I was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s scholarship worth half my tuition fees, I had already decided to attend Bournemouth University. Despite that, receiving that scholarship not only lifted a lot of the burden off my shoulders in regards to funding, but it once again affirmed that my decision to study at Bournemouth University was the best decision I could have ever made for myself.
Starting at BU
I felt as if it was so easy to adjust to new life here in Bournemouth. I easily assimilated myself not only into British culture, but also into a new niche of friends (and now, a few months later, I am sure they will be important colleagues for the rest of my life).
I decided that postgraduate study was different from undergraduate in so many ways, but the most drastic is the friendships and connections I am making. Everyone in my degree of study works extremely hard to the best of his or her ability, which thus pushes me to do my best.
The instructors I have are nothing short of the best, and in just four short months, I can confidently say that not only have I learned more in this time than my four years at undergrad, but also the relationships with my instructors are stronger than ever. Rather than feeling the usual aura of intimidation from them, I feel as if I can approach them with ease and ask them questions to further my educational development.
The town of Bournemouth is, in itself, an entirely different treasure. It’s big enough that you are never left without anything to do, yet small enough that you can simply walk everywhere you want. With the sound of seagulls cawing into the early morning through the crack of my window, and the smell of the coast intertwined with the crisp wind, Bournemouth is the “college town” that I always dreamed about during my undergraduate years. Sometimes I wonder if I am here in Bournemouth to study, or just enjoying an extra long vacation, although the papers and hours of research I do for my degree allows me to come down from dreamland.
I decided that if I am going to live in the United Kingdom, I must obviously assimilate into British culture. I catch myself saying “rubbish bin” instead of “trash can” and “trousers” instead of “pants.” Although my British friends are impressed and of course proud, friends from back home can’t help but comment on my new use of words.
A Californian’s survival guide to living in Bournemouth
After living in Bournemouth for 10 months, I can confidently say that Bournemouth is a smaller, British version of Southern California (minus the amount of rain… if Bournemouth could donate a bit of that rain to drought-ridden California, that would be much appreciated). Perhaps it is from the sunny beaches with sparkling water and an abundance of seagulls, to the stunning pier and local ice cream stand that reminds me a little bit of my own beachside at home. However, although Bournemouth may look a bit like Oceanside, California, there are of course, differences – but that is all part of the experience of living abroad as an international student. This blog post will touch on the simpler things, such as finding a salon for beauty needs to those home-country food cravings, to the complexities of travelling (a new concept to me), as well as the generalities of what it is like to be a United States Citizen in the United Kingdom.
Finding your salon (perhaps just a Californian problem?)
Prior to living in Bournemouth, I was a resident of Iowa, USA. If you are familiar with United States
geography, Iowa is a good distance away from my home of
Southern California. I have already had experience of moving far away from home, and therefore, some of the challenges I faced in Iowa resurfaced when I moved to Bournemouth. One challenge that may seem a little random (and perhaps Too Much Information) is my desperate need of a salon. As a person of Italian/Cuban descent, there always seems to be an abundance of dark hair upon my face. As much as I would like not to experience hot wax underneath my eyebrows or upon my upper lip once a month, it has been an inevitable experience for me since the ripe age of 12. Therefore, I always make it a priority to find a nearby salon that will cater to my hairy needs. Fortunately enough for me, just down the street from my studio flat in Chesil House, is a salon called Coast Hair and Beauty. It’s just a short five minute walk from my home and the customer service is great, even by Californian standards!
Check out their website here.
If you are sushi obsessed like me…
If I could have sushi every day for the rest of my life, I would most likely be the happiest person on this planet. But, good sushi is hard to come by. One thing I was worried about when I moved to Bournemouth, and well… England in general… is if I would have access to sushi that made my heart sing. I’ve had my fair share of pre-packaged grocery store sushi and the disappoint that came with it, so I hoped and prayed that perhaps Bournemouth would have a local restaurant that catered to my taste buds. Bournemouth excelled, of course, and gave me the gift that is The Nippon Inn, an Izakaya Japanese restaurant.
I don’t want to risk sounding too dramatic, but I may or may not have shed a few tears when a friend (another American – we are all just sushi fanatics, aren’t we…) and I found this restaurant in Charminster, just a short bus ride away from downtown Lansdowne. Not only is the sushi delicious, but the service is wonderful and the restaurant itself is a hidden treasure. With beautiful, traditional Japanese décor, you really feel as if you are no longer in England anymore upon walking in. They even have tatami window cushions, a traditional style of Japanese seating arrangements where it is customary to take off your shoes before sitting down. I always try to book in advance for the tatami table, as it just makes the experience all the better. So, if you are a lover of sushi like me, definitely take time out of your day to pop into Nippon Inn. Even if you aren’t a fan of raw fish, they have noodle dishes that are just as delicious.
Check out their website here.
So, what is it truly like in Bournemouth?
Living abroad, of course, has its challenges. There are times when I can’t find a certain brand of food that I miss, or even the simple task of ordering an iced tea at my local Starbucks earns me a few weird looks. But at the end of the day, the challenges that I have are so minor in comparison to the bigger picture. I’ve not only discovered more about myself as a person, but I’ve learned things such as adaptability and bravery. England, perhaps one of the most similar countries to that of the United States, is a perfect stepping stone to my desire to live in even more diverse places. Now that I know I can live far from home – over an entire ocean – I feel brave enough to spread my wings even wider. After earning my Master’s, the dreaded job search will begin. However, I can now see myself living anywhere in the world. Maybe I can continue my tread of living on islands – such as Japan or even Australia. I never would have considered any of those places if it weren’t for my experience living right here in Bournemouth. As someone who used to hate change and fear something going amiss, living in a new country has given me the adaptability skills that I can carry into my career and life.
Bournemouth is much more than just a coastal city in South West England for me. It is more than simply getting my Master’s degree. Bournemouth is a gift and an opportunity to better myself.
The world (or at least England) is your oyster
The main thing that I, as a U.S. Citizen, have yet to get used to is the simplicity of being able to travel here in the UK, as well as the rest of Europe. Ridiculous airline prices and a massive country are perhaps the reason as to why I always saw travelling as something that is not as readily accessible back home in the States.
However, coming to the UK was a real eye-opener to the concept that travelling doesn’t have to be such a tedious process. For winter holidays, I was able to take a trip to Italy to see family, something that I couldn’t have done if I was still in the U.S.A. In July, a friend and I are taking a trip up to her hometown in Northern Ireland, just 15 minutes outside of Belfast. Not only will it be a short hour-long plane ride, but also a round-trip ticket cost just £70! I was in such a state of disbelief, that I kept asking my friend if she was joking about the price – she was not.
Although being in the UK has given me the opportunity to travel around Europe for much cheaper than flying all the way from the U.S.A., I’ve discovered that exploring where I live is something I prefer more (plus, getting a Master’s degree is a bit too time-consuming to be backpacking across Europe). From weekend trips to London, to daytrips around South West England, there are more than enough things to do. From Poole Harbour, Salisbury and Stonehenge, and the city of Bath to the majority of the Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door, and even Monkey World, sometimes I wonder why tourists just stick to the city of London when coming to England. Local tour companies, such as Discover Dorset, can take you on day-trip excursions to all of these places for a cheaper price and a much more personalised experience than doing so yourself. Bournemouth University and the Student Union partners with Discover Dorset at the beginning of the school term, giving students the opportunity to go on these trips at a discounted price. Check out Discover Dorset here.
The Bournemouth Train Station can take you almost anywhere you want in the UK – from a straight shot to London Waterloo, to the city of Southampton, where you can hop on other trains going northbound to places such as Bath, Cardiff, and Manchester. For a longer ride and cheaper price, the Bournemouth Coach Station is just across the street from the train station – and not only can a coach bus take you to as far as Edinburgh or Amsterdam, but also straight to any terminal at the London airports. Travelling here in the UK is such a simple task in comparison to travelling in the U.S.A.
Of course, opportunities to explore other cities in Europe should be snatched. However, sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and forget about the beauty just outside your bedroom window. I find myself preferring Bournemouth on the weekends – to walk along the beach and the pier, sometimes with company, sometimes without. To enjoy a sweet scoop of honeycomb ice cream and a relaxing sit in the gardens with my sketchbook. And, of course, sometimes my wanderlust prompts me to catch the next train or coach to London. Living here, I’ve discovered many things about myself – and the way I like to travel and see new places and old places is one of those things.