Although British students are stereotyped as binge drinkers and lazy, the pre-conceptions held by international students aren’t just about alcohol consumption.
There are currently 589 EU international students at the university this semester, according to Nick Croft, senior international recruitment manager at the University of Lincoln.
French student Antony Calabrese, 21, was wary of the English being “pretentious” and confused about the concept of a fry-up for breakfast.
“I used to think English people were pretentious, thinking that they were better than the rest of the world, always following the USA and always doing the contrary of other European countries. I also found it really weird that English people ate sausage, eggs and beans for breakfast because in France we have sweet food,” he says.
Although Calabrese has been in England since September 2008, it didn’t take long for the masters student to change his mind about the pretentiousness of students.
“After only a few months in England I totally changed my mind. I met lot of English students who were very nice, funny and not at all pretentious; this stereotype was clearly unjustified.
“Unlike I used to think, English people are always having parties and show an interest when you say you come from another country. English girls are the ones showing most interest especially when you come from Paris and you have a ‘Frenchy’ accent,” he says.
Despite the female attention, he added that he still found it hard to accept some habits: “After a year and half, I still do not understand how English people eat sausages for breakfast and drive on the other side of the road!”
However, journalism student Nancy Boswerger, 19, from the Netherlands was well aware of the binge drinking stereotype and was surprised at how justified it was: “To be honest I didn’t have many pre-conceptions about English students. I only heard that you drink a lot. But that would not surprise me that much. In the Netherlands students drink a lot of alcohol too.”
“But my only pre-conception is totally justified. English students drink a lot! Even more than I’m used to back home,” Nancy. says.
Calabrese found that compared to French universities, the University of Lincoln requires a lot more independent study: “Although we have less hours of university in the UK, the work you have to do is huge. In France we use almost only what we do during our seminars/lectures to do our assessments while here lot of research is required. I’d never read a single book during my two years of university in France!”
“Also, when you start university in the UK it’s like you are really past a step in your life, while in France it’s just something normal which does not really change your life,” he says.
Boswerger is enjoying all that the university has to offer, from the social-side to the academic aspects: “I like that I meet new people, that I challenge myself to speak and learn in an other language and [have] new experiences. I also like that I’m in a totally different school system now. It seems that there is more discussion [at] the University of Lincoln, providing more depth.”
And while Calabrese says he enjoys the university lifestyle of parties and cheap alcohol, he admits that being out at least twice a week isn’t the best environment in which to study seriously.
Students from all over the world come to study at the university, however there are hardly any University of Lincoln students that go and study abroad.
But one University of Lincoln student that has decided to study abroad is twenty-four-year-old Liam Berry, who set off for Austria earlier this week as part of the university’s Erasmus exchange programme.
“I’ve never been abroad before and thought if I was going travelling I’d prefer to do it with a support structure behind me,” said the Media, Culture and Communications student.
“It won’t be easy to start off with, as I expect there will be some culture clashes not only with Austrians, but with other students from France and America, for example. But in time we will be more tolerant as people begin to understand where each other is coming from,” he added.
Although he will miss his family, friends and his ‘creature comforts’, Berry knows that the experience will benefit him greatly: “I will gain a sense of international understanding and get to see a bit more of the world — places I’d only usually see on TV or in magazines.”
So few students take the opportunity to study abroad and Croft believes this is down to several factors: “I think it’s partly because students are not aware of the Erasmus scheme and aren’t aware that all the university’s partner institutions in Europe teach in English. I don’t think students are aware of the Erasmus funding they can get either,” he says.
However he added that publicising the funding available to student is something that the university’s international office would like to do in the future.Tweet