A Survival Guide for Americans At Nottingham

Although we speak the same language (American is pretty much the same as English) we often overlook the differences between life at an English University and the American college experience. Amy and I therefore thought we’d comprise a useful little guide outlining a few tips for surviving at Nottingham.

When arriving at Nottingham it is essential to dress the part, especially if planning a trip to the Hallward. Girls, disregard those bootleg pants and cute university emblazed sweaters and don a pair of uber skinny jeans and large sack shirt. Guys, generally sleepwear is not acceptable but if paired with a Ralph Lauren polo shirt and scarf (yes even in summer) you can expect to be congratulated for making a new fashion statement.

Laughing in the face of the recent ban, the brave and plucky students of Nottingham aren’t going to let a little thing like rain stop them from lighting up. Feel free to join in with this popular student pastime, but remember, should you spot someone outside the Hallwood innocently sprinkling something into a Rizzla, avoid the cringe-worthy faux pas of exclaiming: “Woah dude! You can’t blaze a dooby here!” Relax. It’s much more likely to be Golden Virginia than any kind of “chronic shit”. Yes, in England we roll our own cigs. Cool eh?

When getting around it’s best to leave that gigantic four-by-four (affectionately known as Hank) at home and instead favour a smaller, much older car able to squeeze into the tiniest parking space or gap on the sidewalk, hidden away from all wardens and security. N.B. a lift isn’t just an English term for an elevator.

The Hallward is usually the best place to be when studying for a test. Its hot new café ensures there will be plenty of people about to chat to and take cigarette breaks with. Bear in mind the coffee range is limited, usually only two types, so forget that Nigerian/French/Pakistani favourite blend of yours. When using the computers remember that the British like to wait in line. If someone jumps in front of you its best not to say anything. Instead, combat the situation with angry stares and irritated grunts. When writing a paper try to use the correct spelling – simply switch all z’s with s’s and add in a few u’s for good luck.

Fresher’s Fayre, not just for freshmen, is the perfect place to sign up for activities you never intend to try out, and to pay to join societies you will inevitably have nothing to do with. Minimum school spirit is required so the less enthusiasm the better. Soccer is the most popular sport for guys but for any budding baseball fan rounders is always a safe bet. Luckily girls (and guys!) Nottingham has its very own cheerleading team.

Frat boys may struggle as it is difficult to pay for friends at Nottingham. In fact, the closest you’ll get to Greek life here is munching on a post-Ocean donner in a Lenton kebab shop. However, Rugby initiation provides an equally entertaining and outrageous alternative to pledging and hazing. Nottingham is definitely a party school…

In England, students stop using the term “school” to describe their place of study at around the same time they give up saying “playground”, “home-time” and “show-and-tell”. You might very well find yourself copying notes from a blackboard, and you might even take naps in the afternoon, but for most of us, “school” finished a decade ago. Welcome to uni-ver-si-ty. This of course means that “class” must also be struck from your vocabulary. Sorry.

Booze – arguably one of the key components of an authentic English university experience. Don’t get me wrong, most of you Americans enjoy a drink as much as the next self-respecting student, but be warned – you’ll find we do things a little differently on this side of the pond. Firstly, we serve beer by the pint, rather than by the ‘cup’. Yes, I’m afraid you’ll be searching a long time before you’ll find your beloved red plastic cup round these parts. Unfortunately, you’ll also find that Nottingham presents few opportunities to show off your finely-honed skills in beer-chugging, cup-flipping or performing the illustrious keg stand (which basically involves someone doing a headstand on a keg and guzzling beer ‘til they puke).

Thankfully, the English “lash” does not require the fierce competitive spirit that seems to be at the heart of the American booze-fest. Frankly, your average Nottingham student can’t be bothered with complicated drinking games like beer pong (where players throw a ping pong ball across a table, trying to land it in one of several red cups of beer on the other end) or flip-cup (a team-based drinking relay for those who suck at beer pong). We just want to get pissed.

And before you ask…

No, we do not all know the Queen.
No, our currency isn’t crowns and shillings (and hasn’t been for hundreds of years).
Yes, we do have FCUK in the UK.

By Amy Hopkins and Helen Fanning


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