It’s like “Freaky Friday” – but without the body swap.
Junior Linnea Ristow and sophomore Amelia Bradbury are spending their semesters at Newman-Birmingham and Newman-Wichita.
Ristow is currently studying at Newman in Birmingham, England and spends her days studying, reading, and spending time with her five flatmates, who are also exchange students.
“Most things are about what I expected. I suppose the biggest surprise was that Birmingham is not as city-like as I expected. It’s the second-largest city in England, so I had imagined something close to Chicago or Portland. In reality, it feels much more like a lot of suburban neighborhoods arranged around a moderately sized city center,” Ristow said.
Ristow has an active week schedule and says she’s learned a little more academic discipline which means “no more procrastination or, at least, less procrastination”.
“I volunteer at a soup kitchen each week, go to a Christian Union club on campus each Thursday, and go to church on Sundays. I’m also currently helping to start an international development group that will probably meet weekly.”
Ristow said a ‘typical day’ is hard to define in Birmingham.
“During my first several weeks here, a typical day also included a fire alarm, since people in my dorm building apparently didn’t know how to toast bread without burning it,” she said. “It’s not a ‘typical day,’ but over spring break I traveled to Ireland and Scotland with four of my flatmates, which was a lot of fun.”
Ristow misses some things from Kansas, like family, friends, Reese’s cups, and a McDonalds being a couple minutes away from her dorm, but after participating in mission trips in Thailand and Uganda, Ristow felt well-equipped for her trip.
“I think this is because I had already had some culture shock in Thailand and Uganda, and reverse-culture shock when I returned from Uganda,” Ristow said. “Comparatively, my experience here has been very similar to life in Kansas.”
Bradbury is studying here in Wichita, after exchanging out for the semester from Newman-Birmingham. Bradbury is from the United Kingdom and is studying religion, philosophy and education, but while here in Wichita is taking criminal justice courses.
Studying abroad wasn’t originally something she planned on doing, but when Newman University-Birmingham offered, she said she couldn’t turn them down.
“In terms of how the funding and everything works, it just seemed a bit silly to turn the opportunity down. I was interested in seeing a different learning style as well. It was just a different experience,” Bradbury said.
Her experience here has “made a massive difference” in her life.
“I didn’t have a clue what I wanted,” Bradbury said. “Whereas now, it’s made me realize that maybe I want to go down the criminal route, something law based. I’m not exactly 100 percent sure yet, but something down that line.”
Bradbury said one experience that has stuck out to her was her time in Crownpoint, New Mexico over spring break.
“That was brilliant,” Bradbury said. “It was honestly just something completely different that I’ve never experienced. It’s not something I would think to do on my own, but now that I’ve done it with the Uni, it’s probably something I think I’ll want to go back and work and help out there a bit more.”
Bradbury said getting to learn more about the history of the Navajos – something not taught in British schools – was nice.
“Crown Point was completely different to the UK and even Wichita,” Bradbury said. “At one point it was even described as a ‘third world country inside a first world country’ and I think that will really stick with me.”
Bradbury hopes to extend her visa to hopefully finish her degree in Wichita.
This story first appeared in the April 12, 2018 issue of The Vantage.