Words and photo by Ebony Story
The last thing I expected to find while studying overseas in the United Kingdom was the sheer amount of puns. Not just horrible attempts at puns found in newspapers (I’m looking at you, the Advertiser), but smart and funny puns, such as shop names or on vehicles, everywhere for everyone to see!
I loved it. I seem to have a fascination with words and how they can convey so much meaning, which is why puns are so great; there can be two entirely different meanings in one word. Perhaps it’s just because I’m a Writing and Creative Communication student, but so far I haven’t met anyone else who shares my level of enthusiasm for these plays on words. Let me give you some examples: a restaurant was called ‘Ate O’Clock Restaurant’, a florist shop was called ‘Fleurtations’ and a gift shop was called ‘Thistle Do Nicely’. I’d better stop there before I get carried away. Oh, England…
Aside from the pun storm that has hit the UK, studying there was actually quite cool. I was accepted into the University of Sunderland, which is way up north on the coast near Newcastle. With a stony beach and lots of old buildings, it was a bit of a culture shock at first. Despite England being our motherland and all, it was still so different.
At university, three subjects equated to our four (score!) which was nice and gave me some extra days free to travel and explore. Everyone who tells you that the countryside in England is amazing are so right. Green! Green things everywhere! It’s like they’ve never experienced a sun so hot it saps the moisture out of everything. Oh, that’s right, it barely gets above 38 degrees on a decent summer’s day.
England also seems to have a much more involved University culture; lots of sport and club societies that run events and socials. There are even student nights out on the town with drink specials! When I’m talking about drink specials, I’m talking £2 ($4) for a pint of cider or beer. And not a South Australian pint, which is 450mL, but a real pint of 570mL. Good times.
Now, not only do students get discounted drinks on particular nights, but they also get discounts in most clothing shops. It’s a decent 10% too; shopping suddenly became more guilt free. Needless to say, you want to be a student, especially when you even get a free bus service that runs from campus to campus, and to university accommodation.
And do I need to mention that there was a Starbucks in the University library?
I was sold on student life in England, and even my money worries weren’t so bad. Despite the high rate
of exchange from dollars to pounds, I found the cost of living a little cheaper than here in Adelaide. I shared a flat with four others and the total cost for our weekly shopping rarely went above £50! That’s £10, or $20, each. Let me just say that again—$20 for an entire week of food. I was laughing!
Well, until I had a visa mishap and had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to get it sorted out so I didn’t get kicked out of the country. Many thanks go to my mum here. That’s one of the things returned students warn you about: you will probably run out of money; and as I found out, it was true.
But you can’t let that stop you from studying abroad; it’s just part of the experience. You find out how to get things done by yourself and stand on your own two feet. You make new friends from all over the world and learn random German and Croatian words. You eat carb-loaded food and drink cheap booze, and then you join a gym because you’ve let yourself go. But it’s all part of the experience! And that’s what makes studying overseas so great. All of that and the puns, of course.