Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post! My name is Anh Tran, and I am studying abroad in the UK in Bradford, England for the next 11 weeks. My dream of being able to study abroad had become a reality as I have been dreaming about it since the beginning of my sophomore year in 2019 but I had to wait due to COVID-19 and the travel advisory restrictions. I chose the UK to study because of its rich histories such as its conquest by the Romans and the creation of centuries of royals.
The university started Welcome Week and Freshers Week last week but, I had the opportunity to arrive earlier and got to explore 3 different cities which were Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle Upon Tyne with friends I have connected through social media.
This trip was the “first time for many things” such as traveling solo as I typically travel with friends, family, or with schoolmates. It felt quite strange as an extrovert myself to keep to myself while traveling solo as I am used to having someone beside me to have a chat with.
My first ever experience of culture shock is during my layover and on the plane from Orlando to Manchester UK. Although I was in the US at the Orlando airport, 90% of the people on the layover were British and White. Felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb as I was Asian, Vietnamese, and American. I have only traveled by plane to other US states and Vietnam which a lot of people on the plane shared the same nationality and/or ethnicity as me.
The first city I visited was Manchester and I stayed there for 2 nights to rest from jetlag, get the first taste of England, went to the shopping center, and took time to understand the public transportation system. In Machester, I have tried the iconic English breakfast, Nandos, and Greggs.
The next city I visited was Leeds (the city near the university) which is located in West Yorkshire. To get from Manchester to Leeds, I had to take a train with two big pieces of luggage, an around-the-shoulder carry-on, and my personal book bag. Thank goodness my friend was traveling with me as I would have not been able to carry and push these things alone.
In Leeds, I got to see the town hall, went by the old victorian arcade market, and walked next to an old theatre where I got an old picture next to it. I went out for two nights for dinner. The first restaurant I went to was a 20’s style Italian restaurant called Bibis Italianissimo where I had calamari as an appetizer and the best lasagna I have ever had in my life. The second location was a Caribbean Restaurant called Turtle Bay and I ordered jerk chicken and plantains. I have never had jerk chicken before until that day. I did like the jerk chicken thigh but I am not the biggest fan of the jerk chicken breast, however, the plantains were the best plantains I had at any restaurant.
The day before the Queen’s funeral on the 19th of September, my friend and I had nothing much to do on that Sunday, so he asked his friends from Newcastle if we could meet together somewhere, and we all went to Rio Brazilian Steakhouse. This was the first steakhouse I’ve been to where the server goes around with different meats for everyone to try. My favorite meat was the Honey Pork Belly and the Garlic Steak. In addition to the steakhouse I went to, I got to see all of the beautiful architectures and buildings of Newcastle Upon Tyne including its castle, cathedral, old crown courts, a victorian alleyway with pubs, the gray monument, and the theatre royal.
I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to be able to study abroad and be able to afford this experience thanks to FEA’s scholarship. Stay tuned to hear more of my fun adventures, my culture shocks, and the meaningful relationships I made over here!