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一个美国人到英国留学的故事

离开熟悉的生活圈,远赴重洋,生活会带给你怎样的挑战和惊喜?在这个多元化的地球村里,每种文化都有着独特的精彩,而每个异乡的游子,都会在陌生的环境中品尝到文化碰撞的酸甜苦辣。少年时代的作者从美国来到英国,看似没有语言的障碍,留学生活却仍旧充满重重挑战。世界如此之大,成长不止,步履不停。

 

一个美国人到英国留学的故事

 

 

 

By Jennifer Bragg

董翌佳 注

For more than 20 years I have been traveling the world, preferring often to spend a year or two in different countries rather than to just visit as a tourist. It has become a big part of my identity as an adult and shaped how I see the world and myself.

My first taste of this amazing life was when I was 19 years old. I was selected among a small group of college classmates to spend a year abroad. This was long before people could travel the world vicariously through social media like Facebook, Instagram and Weibo. In order to see a place, you had to go there and experience it firsthand.

I was raised in a middle-class family and couldn’t afford to travel around the world the way I wished I could. My only exposure to the world outside was through letters I wrote to pen-pals from over a dozen countries as a kid, and from television. One thing I loved on television growing up were the hilarious British comedies that aired every Saturday night on my local public television station. So when I got the chance to apply for a study abroad program, I chose London. (Plus, I spoke the language.)

Junior Year Abroad, or JYA, is a program that allows American college students to study in another country during their junior year, usually through his or her own university or through a university that has a study-abroad program. JYA has been around for nearly 100 years.

In 1921, a young professor at the University of Delaware named Raymond W. Kirkbride proposed the idea of sending students to study in another country. Kirkbride was a World War I veteran and saw the ugly side of humanity through war. Yet he spent time in France during the war and enjoyed the people and culture. Later, as a professor, he thought that sending students to other countries would help promote cross-cultural understanding. So, in 1923, Kirkbride organized a trip for eight juniors from the University of Delaware to sail to France. Today, the JYA program is offered to thousands of students across the United States and around the world.

Living abroad can be exciting, scary and challenging. I thought it would be easier because I spoke the language, but I relished the little differences between the British and American culture and language. Instead of ground beef they called it “mince”. Instead of garbage they called it “rubbish”. Once, at Christmas, I went to a supermarket and asked if they had egg nog. Egg nog is a very creamy drink seasoned with nutmeg and is delicious and traditional to drink in some American families. The man at the supermarket told me he had never heard of it, and I was really surprised!

I also learned that in England, they spell words differently than in the U.S. In British spelling, they put a “u” in words like favor to make it “favor” and an “s” in words like analyze to make it “analyze”. I was able to adapt quickly to this new way of writing since I was submitting papers all the time for my classes.

Academically, I got to take classes that weren’t offered at my college back home. I took a film class and was introduced to the “classics” with works by Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. I had a course in sociology and learned about the native people of Papua New Guinea.

But there were also challenges that year too. One of my classes was called “Europe Since 1870”. In the U.S., I would have expected an introductory history class, but in England, I was supposed to have already known the history; now was the time to analyze it. That meant I not only had to learn the history as I went along, but also I had to try to write a paper explaining why certain events happened as they did. Once, a teaching assistant who did not take kindly to my misunderstanding of an assignment berated me in front of a fellow student one day. I remember going back to my student house and crying afterwards for being so stupid. Of course, I know now that I was thrown into the deep end, in a completely different and far more challenging environment, and it was natural that I wouldn’t understand everything easily. Despite this, I don’t regret anything about my time in London. Even through painful experiences, we learn to grow.

Sometimes the difficult times made me sad and homesick. But luckily that was outweighed by the amazing experience I had getting to know people from all over the world. I met dozens of interesting people from places like France, Greece and Germany in Europe, to Rwanda, Palestine and Australia. Learning how to make friends with people from different cultures and backgrounds was really fun, and these new friends helped put a face to the countries they represented.

Academically, because there are so many differences between the British and American grading systems, my overall grades were adjusted upwards to account for the degree of difficulty in acclimating to the British educational structure. In the end, I did pretty well, considering I was like a fish out of water in a totally new learning environment.

As I finished the academic year, I was torn inside about leaving London after such a transformative experience. I learned so much about myself as a young woman and an American. When I returned to my college for my final year, friends and professors saw a new me. I had more maturity and self-awareness that I hadn’t had before. It was difficult at first to adjust back to American college life, almost like I hadn’t had the most amazing year of my life and I was simply back for my senior year. But I know, inside, this was just the beginning of a future of world travel and a love of different people and cultures.

Vocabulary

1. vicariously: [vaɪ'kɛrɪəsli] 间接地,从他人的经验间接获得地。

2. hilarious: [hɪ'lɛrɪəs] 引人发笑的,滑稽的;air: (在广播或电视上)播放,播出。

3. University of Delaware: 特拉华大学,位于特拉华州纽瓦克市,是美国最古老的一流公立研究型大学之一,也是美国第一所提供海外学习项目的学校。

4. veteran: 老兵,退伍军人。

5. relish: 品味,享受。

6. ground beef: 绞碎的牛肉,多用于美式英语;mince: 同指绞碎的牛肉,多用于英式英语。

7. egg nog: 蛋奶酒,一种圣诞节的传统饮品。

8. season with: 用……调味;nutmeg: 肉豆蔻,一种香料。

9. Alfred Hitchcock: 阿尔弗雷德•希区柯克(1899—1980),出生于英国伦敦,著名电影导演、编剧、制片人、演员,代表作有《后窗》、《惊魂记》、《西北偏北》等惊悚悬疑片,被誉为“悬疑电影大师”;Orson Welles: 奥逊•威尔斯(1915—1985),美国演员、导演、编剧、制片人,代表作有《公民凯恩》、《历劫佳人》、《第三人》等。

10. sociology: 社会学;Papua New Guinea: 巴布亚新几内亚,位于太平洋西南部的一个岛屿国家,是大洋洲第二大国、英联邦成员国,主要涵盖新几内亚岛东半部,西邻印度尼西亚的巴布亚省,南部和东部分别与澳大利亚和所罗门群岛隔海相望。

11. take kindly to: 乐意接受,对……宽容;berate: 斥责。

12. 当然现在我知道,当时的我一下子陷入了困境,面对的是一个与之前完全不同的、充满挑战的环境,理解任何东西对我来说都有困难也是自然。deep end: 困境,(工作中)最困难的部分。

13. outweigh: 比……更重要,比……更有价值。

14. Rwanda: 卢旺达,非洲中东部国家,境内多山,有“千丘之国”之称;Palestine: 巴勒斯坦,中东国家,由加沙和约旦河西岸两部分组成,主要居民为阿拉伯人。

15. 这些新朋友也帮助我把他们的面孔和他们所代表的国家一一对应起来。

16. 在学业方面,由于英美的分数评价体系迥异,所以我的综合分数有所上调,以适应英国教育结构的课程难度。acclimate to: 适应,习惯(新环境、生活方式等)。

17. a fish out of water: 指处于陌生环境而感到不自在的人,不得其所的人。

18. torn: tear的过去分词,受(不快情绪)困扰的;transformative: 变化的,起改造作用的。

19. maturity: [mə'tʃʊrəti] 成熟。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:董静)


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