Tomorrow I jet off to England, but before I leave I did some research about the places that I will be visiting and, most importantly, studying in.
Referred to as “the city of dreaming spires,” Oxford will be my home for two weeks while I explore the world of global public health. Nestled between the booming city of London and the highly populous city of Birmingham, Oxford has its own set of history, architecture and life.
The most-recognized fact about Oxford though, is that it is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. My favorite feature of the town however, is how its beauty draws artists, writers, anyone actually, to its center for inspiration.
I feel lucky that I will be surrounded by such inspiration during my studies. It is not all going to be bliss though. I do anticipate there to will be a few challenges. The most concerning of them is going to be adapting to a new culture and not feeling like an outsider. As an American, I’ve had very little exposure to culture outside of the U.S. and I hope the transition will be smooth.
Although my name is already Britt, I hope the research I’ve done and things I’ve learned about Oxford will help me feel less like a tourist and more like a true Brit.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I have come across people of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, religions, ethnicities and more. The mere fact that London has such a large number of people and diversity in their city, is actually a warming thought and makes me feel as though I might be more at home then I may initially have thought.
I tend to be a creature of habit, as I believe most of my peers are. From the first class in nursing school to now, I have noticed there is a strict set of norms in the nursing scope of practice. For example, the nursing process of assessment, diagnoses, planning, interventions and evaluation; is used in application to answering questions, thinking critically, how to delegate, etc. While the information is constantly changing and evolving, the process remains the same.
Having said this, the norm or scope of practice may be completely different in Oxford or London. Learning their new norm is something I look forward too, but will challenge what I know. Another example of new norms is in the United States, we place a heavy importance on disease management, while the United Kingdom places more importance on disease prevention. That is a drastic difference in medical care and approach, and much different from any preconceptions I already have.
With every challenge, however, there is always a solution and I believe the solution to be the question “Why?” If I press pause in any situation — whether it be new, old, difficult or easy — I take a moment to ask myself ‘Why?’ With that I am allowing myself the opportunity to understand. As Aristotle once wrote, “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” I take away from this and think to myself that to be able to do anything, you must have knowledge. To have knowledge, you must be taught by one whom understands.
Courtney Rae Pattugalan
It’s bewildering to think that just a week ago, I was mimicking the fetal head’s descent into the maternal pelvis while hunched over a cluttered mess of OB medication flashcards, highlighted notebook pages, empty Venti-sized coffee cups and crumpled Takis bags. Fast forward to today and I am happy to say the bags beneath my eyes have finally packed themselves up, as I comfortably recline upon a throne of pillows while researching the prestigious university that I will call home in just a few weeks.
As I prepare for the trip, I anticipate that the biggest challenge will be managing my time wisely between back-to-back group assignments and exploring everything Oxford has to offer. While anxious about the course load, I am confident that I will keep my priorities in order and complete my assignments in a timely manner. I am so excited to be working in a group with other WCU students as well! I was assigned to be on team with two other intelligent, friendly and outgoing girls and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together. So far, our online assignments have required us to take personal inventory of our learning styles and cultural competencies in an effort to prepare us to develop coping strategies for dealing with a new environment. I plan on going to Oxford with an open mind and willingness to learn and absorb all that I can. I anticipate that there may be occasions of culture shock, yet I feel confident that I will be able to adjust accordingly and respond in a way that enables me to take away something positive.
Since I am in nursing school, one of the first things that I looked up about Oxford was the role of nurses in the U.K.
What I found was that the nurses are required to do extra top-up courses for anything beyond basic nursing care, like IV, cannulation, male catheterization and more. This was really surprising to me, because things are completely different in the States. At some U.S. hospitals, patient care technicians are allowed to draw blood, whereas some hospitals in the U.K. don’t even allow nurses to do that.
Another thing I looked up was the food. I am a picky eater and was wondering if I would have any difficulty in eating the food there. I was satisfied in my search and realized that they have a wide variety of food options in Oxford, including Italian, Chinese, British, Indian and many more.
I have also looked up some of the terms and expressions that people in England may use, and things to not say or do. One of the things that really surprised me was it may be considered rude to speak loudly. Where I am from, talking loudly is a very common thing. I may be a loud talker, so I have been trying to practice speaking in a so-called “normal” tone.
I also discovered that “pants” refers to underwear in the U.K., while trousers are pants.
I feel like the biggest challenge I will have when I arrive to Oxford is figuring out where everything is, and adjusting to the time difference. Oxford is approximately six hours ahead of Texas. That will be a huge challenge for me at the beginning, but I will soon get over it and I feel like I can overcome that challenge with time.
Next week it will all become a reality. I’m going to Oxford! I did so much research and found out some amazing things that I would like to share. Here are a few cool facts:
- There are 38 individual colleges and five private halls at Oxford.
- Oxford was once the capital of England during the English Civil War.
- Oxford has more published writers per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
- Oxford University has educated 26 British prime ministers
- Students who receive a bachelor’s degree from Oxford are given a complimentary master’s degree four years later without the need to take any further exams. It is intended as compensation for the additional work required for an Oxford undergraduate degree.
- Oxford is the home of the world famous Oxford English Dictionary.
- Oxford University is the oldest English-speaking university in the world.
What surprised me the most is how prim and proper the English are. Etiquette. Etiquette. Etiquette. They are all about etiquette. Here, in South Florida, we hug and kiss. Tu personal space, es mi personal space. In the United Kingdom, people are greeted with handshakes. Punctuality? Ha! In the words of Donnie Brasco, “Forget about it.” In Miami, guests are usually told an event starts two hours before it actually does because it is expected that they will be late. In the U.K., you are considered rude even if you’re one minute late.
My biggest challenge will be understand the British accent and slang. I’m going to have to pay very close attention to what is said to me. I think I’ll be able to assimilate and cope in my new environment. The good thing is that I will be with fellow WCU students, some of whom I’ve already connected with and can’t wait to meet.
I’m excited about working with students from other WCU campuses who have the same work ethic as I do. So far I have already completed my portion of our first presentation. I’m excited about starting this journey and learning from my peers. Next week I’ll be able to put names to so many faces. I can’t wait.
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.