By Elizabeth Valenzuela – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Captivated by its rich history, Jessica Harper, a sophomore at UNC Ashevillle, chose the United Kingdom as her study abroad destination.
“The U.K. is just a hop, skip and jump from the other countries in Europe, and truthfully, the fact that they spoke English helped,” Harper said.
While people in the U.K. do speak English, they have heavy accents, something Harper noted as interesting, but not problematic.
“Some accents like the Welsh, which the border is super close, and Scouse, people from Liverpool, are particularly hard but they are super nice about it and find it amusing that we Americans can’t understand them,” Harper said.
Harper is participating in a direct exchange program through UNCA. There are two international students from Chester University, the university Harper studies at in the U.K., who have spent the year here at UNCA.
Sarah Kennerley, a sophomore from Liverpool, said people at UNCA have a hard time understanding her because of her accent.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a language barrier, but more of a communication barrier,” Kennerley said. “I can hardly speak in class because people cannot understand me.”
Although, Kennerley faces some challenges at UNCA, she enjoys the campus life. The UNCA campus happens to be bigger than Chester’s and holds a lot more events.
“Chester is more involved with academic classes, while Asheville is more involved with student life,” Kennerley said.
Diane Royer, administrative assistant, said students study in the U.K. because they already know the language and because it is a more “Westernized” culture, so they feel more comfortable.
“It’s also in my opinion that their parents feel more comfortable with them going to the U.K. because the perception is that it is ‘safer,’ but it may be a combination and not just this aspect,” Royer said.
Harper returns to the United States in June, but she has a set list of places she wants to visit before she leaves.
“I am currently waiting for my grandparents to come. They are visiting for Easter break and are taking me to London before they go back to the states,” Harper said.
Harper also signed up for a 10 day excursion around Europe. During these days she will visit Amsterdam, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France.
“One of those destinations is Venice. I am super excited about that,” Harper said.
While exploring Europe, Harper said she plans to take as many photographs as possible.
According to Harper, Facebook is a good tool to stay in contact with family back home and show what she has been doing while abroad.
Kennerley agrees with Harper and said she uses Facebook daily to stay in touch with her family and posts a lot of photographs so they can see what she’s been up doing.
Preparing for her trip, Harper found the process of packing difficult.
“My rational was taking the essentials,” Harper said. “If you are going somewhere that you can buy toiletries and clothes, then the less you pack at home, the more you get to buy there.”
“Studying abroad takes traveling to the next level, because you have the time to immerse yourself into the culture as opposed to just dropping in for a week or so,” Harper said.