A group of exchange students attending the University of Hull in Manchester, England

A group of exchange students attending the University of Hull in Manchester, England
(Courtesy of Innes Herdan)

By Innes Herdan – Staff Writer

About 3,297 miles away from Farmington, Maine, lies a city in England called Kingston upon Hull. Within this city is the University of Hull, a college that has a partnership with the University of Farmington (UMF). One of the unique facts about the University of Hull is its population of international students, a startling total of approximately 2,000.

In a similar fashion to UMF, the University of Hull has a close-knit community and always has events for its students like karaoke and culture nights. Though, this is not home for the international students, Mathilda Brissy of Toulouse France, a business major at the Toulouse Business School, is finding herself to be quite comfortable in Hull. “The streets and the public transport are mostly clean, people are kind and I love their residential areas with nice houses, all the same,” said Brissy in a recent e-mail interview.

Other exchange students find themselves getting accustomed to their host country, such as Jasmine Hare of Halifax, Canada, a History and French major at the University of Kings College. “The people are very friendly,” said Hare, “and it feels like a really great place to live because it is not a tourist destination, so things are not as expensive and it feels like a home.”

Four and a half months is quite a long time to be away from familiar land, family, and friends. Exchange students are finding perks of being away. “[You have] access to tons of other places in Europe,” said Gretchen Shelman of Ceder Falls, Iowa, a personal finance major at the University of Northern Iowa, “Want to go to Madrid? Sure, just pack up your bags and grab a ticket”.

For those studying abroad in a country that speaks a foreign language, the worry arises that there could be language barriers. “Sometimes when people speak really fast, it was difficult to understand but to my surprise, it was quite easy to adapt myself,” said Brissy, “My principle barrier was, in fact, my pronunciation/accent of some words”.

Unlike UMF, some universities make studying abroad mandatory.  At the Toulouse Business school, “it’s compulsory…but I wanted to discover other cultures and to meet different people,” said Brissy.  Though coming to the University of Hull may not have been an option, this opportunity gives students the chance to discover a new way of life.

For others, studying abroad becomes a chance to make a resume sharper; many do not take this opportunity and therefore, this becomes a unique quality of a future job applicant. As a personal finance major with a minor in international studies, Shelman studied abroad to be “more marketable to future employers.”

Besides the classes themselves, or modules as the English call them, the experience itself is one full of learning. “I’ve learned that I can make it on my own. I went to a college about 2 hours away from my home,” said Shelman, “needless to say, it was not hard to go home if needed; now I’m a day’s worth of traveling away, but I’m doing just fine.”