One of the things that attracted me to come to England for my exchange was the alluring fact that the English speak English
(as the idea of being submersed in a new language somewhat, slightly terrifies me). How mistaken I was.
Whether its words and phrases that sound totally made-up, pronounced oddly or out of the context I am accustomed to them being used in – I’m not exactly sure what people are speaking here half of the time, but it’s not English, as I know it.
Just as I start to get the hang of a dialect, if I travel half an hour in any given direction I am immersed in a new deviation of the English accent.
I had the interesting experience of sharing a conversation with an individual who would punctuate every sentence with “innit?” in an almost involuntary manner.
Of course, I have found that this inflection-induced-confusion goes both ways. If I make an enquiry for directions off a stranger on the street they may stare at me like a stunned rabbit for a few seconds, before I repeat myself, slowly. “Oh sorry, your American twang threw me off love.”
American…twang…? My accent has been mistaken for this on multiple occasions. I can only assume that people think that I can’t possibly be Australian if I do not speak exactly like Crocodile Dundee. ‘Strewth.
What has surprised me even more than my miss-matched twang is the follow up question I am often asked after the usual “Where are you from?” and “What’re you studying?” – that is “Why on earth are you in England!? PRESTON!?” I’m baffled. Why wouldn’t I be? I came from a comparatively tiny campus to a super-campus. The variety of courses here astounds me. At any given social event I can turn from an engaging discussion with a linguistics major, to an aspiring historian/director/dentist/fashion designer, etcetera. UCLan is the central nervous system to a town which pumps on the lifeblood of students filing out into the bars, clubs, markets and shops. I think the locals have become complacent with what this place has to offer, allow me to spell it out:
* Everything you need is but a brief walk away. Everything. Liquor stores, Grocery stores, pubs with cheap dinner specials (if groceries are too much bother), a gym (to work off all the chips you ate at the pub)…
* Hidden treasures. Begin exploring and soon you’ll discover delights such as funky retro stores and cup cake cafes.
* Really old buildings. These may be a dime a dozen in this nation, but coming from a country that has not even been colonized for as long as the church building down the road has been standing, I’m in awe.
* Travel opportunities! Surely one can never get complacent with the idea that weekends away to London, Dublin, Edinburgh and just about any given European city are so attainable!?
These positives have so far surpassed my list of negatives – which includes such things as encounters with bees the size of fully-grown dung beetles, the struggle to find a decent kebab, the oncoming inhuman winter cold, the despair when I check the current British pounds to Australian dollars exchange rate, and the severe lack of vegemite.
I suppose what I am trying to say, is make the most of UCLan, of Preston, of everything! Embrace the place – whether you’re a fresher in your ‘honeymoon phase’ of uni life, a discontented third-year, or a wide-eyed exchange student like yours truly.
What are your thoughts on Preston (City/Town)? Are you an exchange student that is equally enthusiastic about the area? Or maybe you are just as cynical as the people in the article? LET US KNOW!
Alannah studies Journalism and is currently on exchange from the University of Western Sydney, Australia.