Archives for the month of: September, 2011
Logo for Costa Coffee

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I realize that while abroad, I will have some issues with language usage, references, biases and just knowing things that are commonplace to everyone else.

For example, in my “Creative Industries: Strategy,  Environment, and Management” class our first assignment is to do a strategic analysis of Costa Coffee. I have never in my life done a strategic analysis, moreover I have no clue what Costa Coffee is. It could be in the U.S. but I’m not a coffee fan, so I do not know. After giving us the assignment, Jeff, the professor asks if anyone does not know what Costa Coffee is. I raised my hand and realized I was the only one in the class who was unfamiliar with this business. One girl then looked at me and said, “What? You don’t know what Costa Coffee or Nero Coffee is?” In my mind, I was thinking, “No, I raised my hand because I wanted to stretch…of course, I dont know what that is!” This continued to happen as references were made that strictly pertained to the U.K.  I felt at a disadvantage because not only do I not know the references, but since I don’t know the references, I can’t fully understand the examples given which hinders me from fully understanding the concept discussed.

I wonder if that is what Anna felt like sometimes in class when we would make U.S. references.

Also, I have run across several people who have basically insinuated that my English speaking skills are inferior to their English because I do not speak the Queen’s English

For example, I was reading something that referred to “oestrogen.” I asked, if that was a hormone different from estrogen or was it the same thing.  My friend replied that it’s the same thing but that they spell it correctly. I inquired why is their spelling the correct way and if it was said differently because the “o” was in front. She replied that the “o” is silent. I asked then why is it there?  I’m still waiting on her response….lol

Conversation like that have happened when I spell something with a “z” instead of an “s” like “organization” instead of “organisation.” I really do not feel that the spellings or pronunciations are a big difference, nor do I feel like one form of English is better than another.

I have also met people who have a predetermined bias against Americans for one reason or another.

For example, I was on the bus and two British people were arguring. In the midst of the argument, one person said to the other, “This is not America! You can not have things your way.” In my mind, I wondered how did the U.S. get involved in their argument.

I was in McDonalds and an older gentlemen heard me talking and said, “You’re a yank, aren’t you?” Surprised, I stated “I’m from America if that is what you mean.” He continues and says, “I have met many American women and American women are loud, pushy….etc. I have no use for an American women.”

While in class my professor was giving a lecture and telling a story to emphasize his point. He said, “Is anyone from the U.S?” I was the only one who raised my hand. He then said, “Well, then I won’t say what I was about to say in my American accent.” I almost wanted him to continue his lecture so I will see what he would have said and how he would have said it.

But despite these differences of pronunciation, spelling, etc. the above mentioned conversations are few and far in between.

Alarm clock

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Buzzz, Buzzz, Buzzz

My alarm clock goes off and I press the snooze button. 15 minutes later, I arise out of bed to begin my day.

No time for breakfast, I rush out of my dormitory to the bus stop.

Dang, I just missed the 9:30am bus.

Which means I have to take the 9:37am bus.

Wait, Wait, Wait

Taps foot to an aggravated rhythm.

Looks at clock.

I’m definitely going to be late.

I text my classmate asking her to offer my apologies to Mel, my instructor.

I hop on the bus.

There are atleast 20 stops between me and my destination.

Calculation, Translation:

I’m going to be later.

Run off the bus

Bypassing mums and dads, businessmen and women, students like myself

To try to make it before 10:10am.

Where is the room?

In the library

Upstairs to the left

Through the elevators

Up the ramp

Down the hallway

Wait!

Where’s you i.d?

You need it to get in the library.

Digs in bag.

Heart racing

Deep breathing.

Where is it? Where is it?

Eureka!

I found it!

Shows the i.d.

Rushes down the hallway

To my class.

Mel’s talking.

I walk in. Sit down.

And class begins for me.

10 minutes late. 

Yesterday was my first day of classes.

A traditional Sunday roast: roast beef, vegeta...

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Today my extended family gathered to have Sunday dinner at my mom and dad’s house. While there, I had the opportunity to talk to the majority of my family members via skype. It was nice to talk to them but I was a little jealous that they were having a good ole Sunday meal, especially since my dinner consisted of cereal and milk.  For lunch, I did have a Sunday roast, which is a traditional meal of roast beef, vegetables, gravy, potatoes, and yorkshire pudding. It was good, but I was not feeling too well so I did not get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked to.

I noticed that today I have been acting distant with the flatmates that I usually talk to daily. Sometimes, I just want to be by myself, soak things in and just enjoy my own company. Even when I lived in the U.S., I would get in moods like this when I desired to be by myself. Today, I find myself getting annoyed at things or people that usually would not upset me. When I am in a mood and I am feeling “some kinda way,” I prefer to be by myself so that my bad mood does not rub off on others or that I am not abrasive or rude to innocent people. So that is why I prefer to stay in my room today.

Even though, I was in my room all day, I have not felt motivated to do any work on the assisgnment due next week, despite the fact that I could have gotten it done early if I did it this weekend. Oh well…..

 Like the Monica song from the 90’s, “It’s just one of them dayz that a girl goes through, when I’m angry inside I don’t wanna take it out on you. It’s just one of them dayz. Don’t take it personal, I just wanna be out alone….”

Hopefully tomorrow will be better as I need to get out of this funk. I’ll pray about it.

Today

I have been in a sour mood.

The people here are nice and friendly.

But sometimes, I just want my own space.

I want

Some “me” time

Some family time

To be in my room

And

Have no one knock on my door

No one call my phone

To inquire about my whereabouts

How I am

What I’m doing

The people here are nice

Very nice

And they give me loads of advice and help

But

I just want to be alone

So

I’m distancing myself from my flatmates

Through no fault of their own

I hope they understand

I’m just homesick

I’ll be ready to talk

Tomorrow

 

Hey Ma,

Aw, you miss me;  I miss you too.   School is going really well actually. I created my first PR Campaign today; I realize that there is a lot I don’ t know about Public Relations, but I am willing to learn as much as I can while here. I did not know there were so many facets to pr. I knew there were a lot of different activities that a pr person does, but I did not know I could do corporate pr,consumer pr,  fashion pr, community relations pr, governmental pr, work for a pr agency, business to business pr, charity pr, or I could do freelance pr…..as you can see there are a lot of options, so I hope to actually gain experience in quite a few of those fields while here.

Today, we had a networking event with a lot of different pr firms in manchester. I made about 4-5 really good contacts: business to business pr, consumer pr, governmental pr, corporate pr. Each of them stated they were willing to take me on for a few wks so I could gain some experience. That would be great! Experience is the only way you can make it in PR.

Classes start on Monday. I look forward to it but I know it will be quite a bit of work but myclassmates are very friendly and I think we will get along well. Some of my classmates have already stated how they wish I would stay the entire school year 😉 We all went out tonight. It was fun and calm enivronment so we got to talk with each other.

As always, I am still doing a million things at once: working on thesis research, trying to get organized, still learning my way around Manchester; planning trips to visit different parts of the city, etc.

Also, one of my flat mates is really nice. She brought me a bunch of stuff from freshers fair (a thing that first year students go to in order to get free stuff, information, etc.) when we skype, I will tell you what all she brought me. She is actually the latest addition to the “New Friends” section of my blog.

Love always,

Morgan

This week began the induction to the International Public Relations Program. So far, I  have gone through different information sessions regarding class registration, safety, program briefing, campus resources, etc. A lof of the information sessions have begun to be redundant because this is the third time I have been given the same information since I had to go to orientation for international students last week and Monday. I must admit. I have had my full of Information sessions.  However, when we got to learn about the specifics of our courses and the plan for our time here, I was excited about the program orientation today.

From our orientation, I learned that this program will be a combination of theory and practice in the field of pr. It seems very interesting as we will be having guest lectures from various PR practitioners from the Manchester area. In the course, we will have the opportunity to work with a live client doing press work for them. We will also be looking at the different areas of public relations in order to gain a greater understanding of what area in which we may like to work. The classroom size is small. We will have a maximum of 14 students in the class and similar to UNC-C, the majority of the students are female.

I like the fact that we are all beginning the course together as this is the beginning of the Masters program for those alongside me in the program. That way, cliques have not been formed and I have less of a chance of being the “odd girl out.”

I am not too worried about the courseload. I know the work will be demanding but I know the benefits of having that practical experience in pr will be priceless so I want to take advantage of my experience. Upon my return, I will be able to use those skills within the our Communication Dept. and the Center for Global Public Relations. Since I am student at Manchester Metropolitan University, I have the privilege of  being a member of the Public Relations Consultants Association, one of the main professional organization specifically for PR agencies in the UK and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, another prestitigious organization focused on PR in the UK.  

I hope to make many personal and professional connections in the UK and tell others about our wonderful program at UNCC.

To learn more about the UNC Charlotte Communication Department, visit here: http://communications.uncc.edu/

To learn more about the Center for Global Public Relations, visit here: http://cgpr.uncc.edu/

Today I got some sad news from my Mom via email. In the midst of her casual conversation about clothing, the weather, skype and work, she told me that a close family member had been assaulted and currently has a broken nose and a broken eye socket. The doctors do not know whether or not they will be able to save the eye due to the swelling and damage caused by the assault and if they can fix it, the grand total for the procedure would be approximately $25,000.

Now most would assume that since I am abroad I would have been emotionally distraught by the situation; surprisingly, I am not. Although I am sad,  I am pretty calm. Had I no foundation or belief in a power greater than me (God), then upon hearing the news, I may have burst into tears while trying to book the quickest flight back home, forfeiting my opportunity to study abroad, and ruining my chances of graduating on time.

Instead, I choose to  Pray. Pray for strength. Pray for understanding. Pray for his healing. But most of all, pray for the family as a whole, that we make it through this time.

I realize that my presence at home would not have changed what occurred. Even though,  I am abroad, I can serve as a source of support to my family and vice versa.  Thank the Lord for technology and it’s ability to cross space and time to ensure that even when I’m not there physically, I’m there. And I know that no matter where I am, prayer still works.

A veiled Arab woman in Bersheeba, Palestine.

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Today, I visited St. Edmunds church (per Kiya‘s suggestion) for Sunday worship.  The church has a congregation of mostly senior citizens with those in the mid 30’s- 40’s also in attendance. There is not many young people (babies to 20 years of age) there, nevertheless I liked the church . This is the first time where I have attended a church that I can say is truly DIVERSE. Usually, the churches I have attended, although they may say they are diverse (which they are in many ways) there always seems to be some ethnic majority in the congregation. 

At St. Edmunds, there seems to be an equal mixture of races and ethnicities. In fact, walking up to the front door of the steps, I saw two elderly women (one caucasion and one of african descent) holding hands and aiding each other in the pathway to the church.

As I approached them, I stated, “Good morning. Is this St. Edmund’s church?”

With a bright smile, the caucasion women replied, “Yes, it is. Please come in.”

I entered the worship area and was greeted by Sarah, the pastor of the church.

While talking to Sarah, I overheard the elderly caucasian lady tell the african lady, “I’ve been here all these years and I’ve never welcomed someone in the church and they came right in. I’m glad she came.”

***

Later in the day, I was in the kitchen speaking to an international muslim student. Among our casual conversation, I told her I went to church today.

“Are you a Christian?” she asked with her hijab covering her head.

“Yes.”

“O okay. Do you practice your religion?”

Not fully understanding her question, I raised my eyebrows in confusion.

She continued, “A lot of people are religious, but they don’t practice their religion. For example, a lot of people are Muslims, but they don’t formally practice their religion. I practice my religion.”

My mind ran to a conversation the night before with another Muslim friend who stated that she does not wear the hijab because she does not feel she would do it justice right now due to her lifestyle. However, she knows that one day, she will wear the hijab, just not today.

Understanding her question, I answered yes, but her inquiry seemed to get at a question I had been asking myself for a while. I say I’m a Christian, but do I practice my religion. Those can be, at times, two separate realities…but should they be? No, I don’t have to wear a hijab but similiar to how the hijab is an outward expression of an inner committment to a higher being, I wonder if my lifestyle reflects that inner committment…. just a thought.

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping and unlike my usual task of grabbing my keys and driving to the nearest store, life in Manchester has made me become very acquainted with the bus system. Since I am on a budget, I shop around to find the best bargain and although that is economically better, the time and energy it takes to walk from store to store and go from different sections of the town can be draining! Thankfully, my new friend Igho (who I referred to in another post and who you can learn more about my reading the “new friends” section of my blog) is a WHIZ with numbers. I assume that is one of the reasons she is a business major.

She is indeed, the fairy Godmother that I was looking for to assist me with everything from knowing where to catch the bus, how to get to campus, where are the best places to shop, what prices are reasonable, and where to hang out for fun, she has definitely been a life saver! She has helped me carry bags from ASDA (similiar to Walmart) when I forgot that I’m only so big, therefore my shopping bags have to be limited whenever I shop. She even clips coupons. Score!! Before I buy anything my favorite line is, “Igho, is this reasonable?” 😉

She makes sure I have everything I need from plaster when I cut my finger in my room to bedding when I forgot to buy the cover sheet to go over my bed. I am glad to have found a friend in her!

On the 85 Bus to go to Charlton to shop! It was a loooong day.

Waiting on the Bus

Today was my first day abroad and so far, everything is going pretty well. The time difference has me a little jet lagged but beyond that, all is fine. The ppl. who live in my dormitory are really nice. I met this Nigerian girl named Igho (pronounced as ig as in igloo) who has been REALLY helpful; she showed me how to get to campus (which is different because the campus is not in one central location) and the supermarket, etc.  Although I spend a lot of time talking to other exhange students, sometimes, I do not have a clue what they are talking about. For example, Igho asked me if I would like to drink some squash. I frowned my face up and told her no. She said it’s really healthy. I declined. She persisted. I looked at the mixture and said, I prefer my squash steamed. She looked at me very funny.

Well, long story short, squash is not the vegetable that I thought. It is this concentrated drink you mix with water. lol The drink comes in all colors. Lesson Learned Here: Although we both speak English, there is definitely some form of Squash is also a sport here… idk how they play that sport.

And a lot of the international students I meet are AMAZED at the fact that I am an American. For example, I met one girl and now she always asks me “How is America? How is America?” lol I showed her some American money and she was like, “OMG, I touched America!” lol I also met this wonderful girl named Nabsie who has been lovely towards me (they use the word lovely a lot here, so I thought I would throw that in). She has offered to take me to see the various sights around town, which should be fun!

Little things are so different here. For example, I went to use my shower and wet the ENTIRE bathroom floor. You have to push the pump every 10 seconds to keep the water running and the shower head is not attached so you have to hold it, so it was a hot mess trying to take a shower last night.

Ttyl,
MS