Tag Archives: United States

Abroad Blog of the Week: Milk and Whisky

Since I’m American, I always think of an abroad blog being outside of the U.S. But if your Cambodian, Argentinean, or French, the U.S. is definitely a foreign country. So when I found Andy’s blog, Milk and Whisky, I thought it would be a great abroad blog of the week. Andy is a British college student who is studying at Ball State University in Indiana for the next year and pointing out the cultural differences along the way. He’s funny and opinionated and he has made me learn new things about my own culture.  I was able to catch up with Andy to ask him about his experiences so far in the middle of America.

How did you decide to study abroad at Ball State?

It’s not a terribly exciting story. Our university offered a study abroad program. I thought it might be fun. I’d always been kind of interested in going to America. A side effect of too many Hollywood movies. That and I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to study anywhere where English wasn’t a first language. I put down three colleges that did my course and I happened to get Ball State.

Did you watch the presidential debate last week? What did you think?

I watched long enough to get a feel of what was going on. I get tired of political debates because you simply don’t know who’s telling the truth. There’s no way of quickly checking whether what’s being said is actually correct. On a purely charismatic level, I thought Romney was better whereas Obama appeared hesitant.

What have been the most surprising differences between home and Indiana?

It’s not really the major differences that get you but the accumulation of small differences. That being said, the two most noticeable differences were in assessment and night life. When it comes to night life, Ball State has made me so glad to be British. I miss our students union and university bars.

The college does organise events but with a few exceptions, they’re pretty poor. I feel sorry for the RAs because I know how badly they want people to go but at the same time I’m rarely interested in what they have planned. If you want to have any fun around here you’ve got to go off campus and find a good house party.

I knew I was going to have frequent assessments before I came but I wasn’t aware of how difficult it would be to adapt to it. It’s good that it forces you to consistently study and you get a deeper knowledge of your subject as a result but at the same time I think the workload for some of my classes is unreasonable.

Will you give football another chance?

Maybe. Probably not college football, I don’t really enjoy standing on crowded bleachers for hours pretending to care about something I barely understand. I did watch an NFL game recently which wasn’t too bad. There was a lot of commercial breaks though. Like every fifteen minutes. It got a bit tiresome.

What do you love/hate about being a Brit in the U.S.?

The best thing about being here is the people I’ve met. I’ve made some great friends. Our university offers a friendship family program and their hospitality has been mind-blowing  Going sightseeing in New York. Taco Bell. Corn dogs. The library computers here have two monitors. Ask me when I’m back in England and I’m sure I’ll have a list that would run for pages, haha.

A few things have bothered me, mainly to do with the lifestyle shift. The night life I’ve already mentioned. Meal plans are a nuisance. It’s only real purpose is to restrict what, where and when you eat. I’m not at school any more. I can buy and cook my own food.

I’m also not a fan of room-sharing. I don’t have any problems with my roommate but I like having my own room. Room sharing doesn’t really serve any purpose (except for being a good excuse to squeeze more students into dorms) and it’s just an unnecessary nuisance.

What advice would you give to another student planning to study abroad in the U.S.?

Meet Americans, straight away and as soon as possible. They’ll know where to go, what to do. If you’re only hanging around with people from your home country, you’re wasting an opportunity.

Remember you’re not there for very long. Here’s one of your few chances to try things with no long-term implications. Make of that what you will.

Here’s Andy with two of his fellow study-abroaders from England tailgating before the football game. He’s in the middle holding the squirrel, his university’s mascot.
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The Kettle Question

I’m a coffee addict. I get up every morning, turn on the coffee pot, and sip my two cups. My mother, on the other hand, is a tea junky. If I ever want to show her I care about her, I could just go make her a cup of tea and she would be thrilled. She taught me how to make tea at a young age. Get out a cup. Drop in the tea bag and fill with water. Microwave for 90 seconds.

I think I may have just heard gasps from across the pond.

I remember reading a post from one of my students last year who was studying in the U.K. She had put her tea cup in the microwave and all of her British roommates looked at her like she had a second head. They could not believe she was not using a kettle. On the other side, Andy from Milk and Whisky faced a dilemma when he first arrived in the U.S. and discovered Walmart does not sell electric kettles.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the choice between using the microwave or the kettle is a reflection of our cultures. As Americans, using a microwave is an indication of our values of ingenuity and efficiency. While for the Brits, the kettle is a symbol of quality and tradition. I’m sure both sides would argue which way is better, but in the end, I think I each society will choose the way that reflects what is important to them.

For me, who is attempting to be global from home, I’ve decided to start using the kettle. I tried it for the first time about a week ago and was so excited to hear it whistle when it was ready. Although it took a while longer, I have to say it was a delicious cup of tea.

What do you use? Microwave or kettle?

Remembering

Eleven years ago today I was sitting in my international politics class when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. My professor kept lecturing thinking it wasn’t anything to stop for until the second plane hit. With the Center for Disease Control located on our campus in Atlanta, all classes were canceled. Some of the residence halls were evacuated. The skyscraper I worked in was closed for two days. Even hundreds of miles away from New York City, we still felt the resounding boom of those buildings collapsing as our lives changed forever.

On the anniversary of that tragic day, I remember the ones our nation lost, the heroes who put their lives on the line, the outpouring of love that was felt from around the world, and the goodness that prevailed over the evil that was done.

PLNU remembers the victims of that tragic day with flags for each life lost.