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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Lost in Translation: Meet Olivia Bradley from Birmingham, England

    Rebecca Marie Sasnett

    Olivia Bradley, a junior English major, sits on stairs at the Student Union Memorial Center on Friday. Bradley will spend the full academic year in Tucson before returning to her hometown in Birmingham, England.

    The purpose of this column is to gain an outside perspective of the UA environment from the view of one of the many foreign exchange students who visit the Old Pueblo each semester. Olivia Bradley is making her seventh trip to the U.S. this fall as she studies a variety of courses in the English department. This windsurfer from Birmingham, England, said she is excited to explore more of the West Coast during her yearlong stay in Arizona. A fan of “Grey’s Anatomy” and books by Junot Díaz, this bookworm is still trying to find someone to explain to her what “bear down” means. Bradley spoke with the Daily Wildcat about yearning for Chinese food, homework overload and encounters with the notorious Brother Dean.

    Daily Wildcat: What is one of the biggest culture shocks you’ve experienced so far?

    Bradley: There’s a lot more small talk here; it makes it easier to make friends. People here are more open, I would say. You can start a random conversation while waiting in line somewhere.

    What is something you really miss in England?

    Food’s definitely been a big one. Chinese food in England is very different than it is here … like chow mein here is not the same at all. I’m also not use to eating food with so much cheese on it, like pizza and Mexican food. And I miss a good cup of tea. … I have to get iced coffee.

    What were some of your perceptions of America before visiting?

    Before I came to America, I thought Americans were really fashionable and everyone was beautiful. And the more I’m here, I realize American people have bad fashion days, too. I wasn’t expecting that based on the outside portrayal of America. I had no idea that the Southwest had a Latino population or that there were very many Asian people. My view of America was one of lots of white people and a few black people. I had no idea how diverse America [is].

    What’s been one of the strangest things you’ve seen here?

    I’ve had a few run-ins with that Brother Dean guy, and that was so bizarre. People don’t do that in England. Even if they have a strong opinion that they’re protesting, it’s never directed at someone. I mean, I get the whole you guys having those constitutional rights, but I feel like there is no counteraction for, like, when it becomes hateful speech. I feel like we’ve been quicker to pick up on that.

    What is something you’re getting tired of people asking you?

    A lot of people ask me about the weather and how I’m adjusting, but I feel like they think England is a lot colder than it actually is. Like, they ask me about snow, when it rarely snows in England.

    How are you adjusting to the heat? If you don’t mind me asking.

    It’s taking a while. I can be outside now. When I first got here, I was just like hopping from one air-conditioned room to the next.

    How would you compare the academic environment here to England?

    I’m not use to having such a high volume of work, so I’ve been here a month and I’ve done three or four essays, which seems crazy to me. Usually we do two a semester per class in England, so it’s a heavier workload. But I’ve noticed the grading is a lot more relaxed. I got like a 10 out of 10 on an essay and I was like, ‘How?’ … It doesn’t make sense to me; I’m use to being so critically marked.

    Do you think the extra work is benefiting your education?

    I don’t feel like it’s academically benefiting me; I don’t feel as challenged by it. I feel like its quantity over quality. I mean, it’s good practice in terms of organization … but I don’t feel like my mind is being as stretched as it is back home.

    What is something you can’t wait to tell your friends back home about?

    Football games. Even though I’m not the biggest sports fan, I think it’s something I’ll spend the rest of my life explaining to people, but no one will understand.

    Follow Kevin C. Reagan on Twitter @KevinReaganUA

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