Freshman Jennifer England, a native of North Wales and a part of the Georgia Rotary Student Program, is one of Clayton State University’s international students for the spring 2012 semester.
Brett M. Reichert, associate director of the Clayton State International Student Services Office, recently sat down with England for a Q and A on her country, and her experiences thus far at Clayton State.
Q: Can you tell me about your country?
A: I live in North Wales which is a part of the United Kingdom and is connected to England. Wales is known for its beautiful, green scenery, mountains, valleys and rivers. When it’s sunny it is a comfortable heat, with very little humidity and recently we have had snow filled winters. I would say that spring in Wales is the most beautiful as the daffodils come out and the new lambs are born. Our food is very similar to that of the rest of Britain, however Wales is known for eating more lamb and we have specialty cakes such as Bara Brith which is a Tea Loaf and Welsh Cakes.
Q: Is Wales different from England/British? What is the difference?
A: I get asked this question a lot, ‘What is the difference between the two?’ and I find it easier to compare the countries of Britain to the States in the U.S. We are separate countries, with different national holidays and cultures. However we all vote for the government centered in London. Great Britain has one prime minister, similar to the president of the United States. However each country has slightly different laws (such as free prescriptions in Wales, and free education in Scotland) which are made by the Welsh Assembly for our country. The main differences between the countries are our history and culture.
Q: Is there any similarity between your culture and American culture?
A: There are a lot of similarities. We both speak English and celebrate traditional holidays such as Christmas and Easter. However we also speak Welsh, a very old, Celtic language. We have certain holidays that are different (we celebrate St. David’s Day on Mar. 1, as St. David is our Patron Saint).
Q: Why did you choose to come here to study? What’s your major and what’s your student status now?
A: I am here as part of the Georgia Rotary Student Program and one of about 50 international students that are studying in universities around Georgia, representing our countries and learning about the American culture. My major is Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I am a freshman.
Q: Is the American university environment and study style different from the ones in your country?
A: The American university system is very different to Britain. We do not study core classes so our Bachelor degree only takes three years to complete as the program is more intense. We do not have extra credit available to us either so that is a bonus over here! The class sizes are similar in some universities however in others class sizes can reach up to 300 students.
Q: What is your plan after your year at Clayton State?
A: I am only here for one year, so once I leave I will return to Britain and start studying for my Biology degree in Nottingham University. I plan to be a Biology teacher when I graduate.
Q: Have you ever experienced any cultural shock when studying abroad?
A: There have been quite a few culture shocks, such as transportation. At home we have much easier access to public transport such as buses and trains and the distances we travel are a lot shorter.
Q: Do you have any advice for international students who are studying at Clayton State or planning to choose Clayton State to pursue their degrees?
A: I would say immerse yourself as much as possible, get to know all sorts of people as that is the best way to find people that you can get along with. I now have a wonderful group of friends and that is because I wasn’t afraid to go out of my comfort zone when I first arrived. This will help banish intense homesick feelings. Also try not to get too caught up in the contrast to portion size and variety of foods as a lot of my friends have complained that they gained weight when at university, look after yourself and keep yourself healthy so you can focus on your studies.
Q: If you could be an animal, which one you would choose to be? Why?
A: I would be a lioness, as they are strong and powerful individuals but also work incredibly well as a team. They seem to have a pretty good balance to me, and lions are also my favorite animal!
Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: My favorite color is purple.