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Perspectives July 8, 2004

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Cindy Bailey
Photo by Sean Payton
The Cleveland Stater staff cajoled English exchange student Cindy Bailey, who has worked on the Stater staff this summer, to recreate a local version of Abbey Road.

Cindy Bailey
Photo by Angela Mervar
Cindy Bailey

Travel and Travolta part of experience

“Where’s that accent from?”

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

Those have to be two of the most frequently asked questions I have had since coming to Cleveland State University/America.

I now have a set speech to many of these commonly asked questions. “I’m from England,” I would say, to then be inundated with questions: Why did I choose CSU? Why Ohio? Where in England am I from? London? What do I think of George Bush? Do I like Tony Blair? Do I like America?

I found it funny that people, mainly adults, would want to know the political opinion of a 19-year-old English student. After a few weeks I felt like robot reeling off this polite speech about why I’m here, how long and for what reason, along with defending my decision for choosing CSU.

I never became sick of telling my story, just a little bored. I was flattered that people even cared why I was here.

I never really knew what to expect when coming to CSU. I had expectations yet when trying to put them down on paper I find it difficult.

If a person were to ask you what would you expect if you were to study in England for two semesters, what would you say? How would you answer? Would you really have expectations?

There are so many things to take into consideration. Teaching methods, the whole university and school systems are completely different.

Leaving home for the first time. Moving half way across the world alone can be a frightening experience.

The language. The language would surprise many, although we all speak English. We really don’t all speak English. With my slang terms from the area of England I’m from … mixed with the slang of the U.S and the regional slang of Cleveland Ohio … I, and those who met me, had our hands full.

The English have ‘fry-ups’ for breakfast, and fish ‘n’ chips, for dinner, along with crisps as a snack.

Americans have muffins, bagels and coffee for breakfast and burger with fries for dinner with chips as snack. Confused?

I frequently wanted fries but ended up with chips, as I had asked for them the English way. Then when returning home for a brief time during the Christmas holidays I would end up with fries when I wanted chips!

You have to be prepared for a great deal of change, and I’m not sure I was. I knew that not everything would be the same, that there would be some huge differences, for instance teaching methods, cars driving on the wrong side of the road, but I had not prepared myself for the small, and normally insignificant changes.

I find it hilarious when people try to impersonate me, or even an English accent. As do my friends when I try and have an American accent. Apparently I sound like a ‘Valley girl.’

I must admit to being a member of one of the most tourist-oriented, ‘I love America’ families possible. Having been a frequent visitor to Orlando, Fla., I thought I knew what it would be like to live in the States. How wrong I was. The real thing is slightly different when compared to meeting Mickey and Minnie, Mouse that is. And riding the Hulk in Islands of Adventure.

Making friends was one concern I did have. I didn’t know anyone. It was like the first day of school all over again. But sure enough America lived up to its reputation of being extremely welcoming and friendly. I have met some amazing people, from all kinds of backgrounds, and different countries. My roommate was from Paris…. I now have free accommodation in the capital of France.

But most of all, this one-year exchange program has given me the opportunity to make the kind of friends you keep for life. And travel. I have traveled so much. Cleveland State has given me the opportunity to visit places I could have only dreamed of. I have been to different areas of the North, along with visiting the East and West of America. I even met John Travolta in the process!

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