Q: Why did you choose to be part of an exchange?
A: It is part of my course, but I think even if it was not mandatory I would still want to do an exchange.
It is such an amazing experience to live in another country. I have lived in several and I have realized that that it is the only way to properly get to know the place. Going on holiday somewhere just is not the same. I am really interested in American history and politics, so it is just the perfect experience for me really.
Q: Can you elaborate on the several countries you have lived in?
A: So I was born in Malta, which is in Europe, and when I was 10 we moved to London. We lived there for five years. And then we moved to Surrey, and my parents have lived there ever since. Now I go to the University of Kent.
Q: What made you decide to come to UNC Charlotte?
A: Actually UNC Charlotte was one of my last options. Maryland was my first choice because it is close to DC, and obviously I am a politics major. But they dropped out of the program with Kent.
The second place I replied to, which I can’t remember the name of, they also dropped out. The third place only had one place open and it went to my friend. And the fourth place was UNC Charlotte. And now I am here!
Q: What is the most prominent way in which your culture and American culture differs?
A: I mean with Americans, they are way more open and friendly. In England you don’t even speak to your neighbor; you don’t even say “good morning.”
While here they get in like full-on conversations. It’s insane in comparison. Culturally, I mean, we watch American TV; we listen to American music.
It’s more like the food, I think, that has really, really shocked me. The food and the slow pace of life, especially since we are in the South, it really gets to me. But apart from that, it’s not that big of a culture shock for me. I’m not migrating back because of the food!
Q: What has been your most exciting moment on the exchange?
A: The first week when we didn’t have lectures and we were all getting to know each other and the area was amazing. I feel, because I have moved so much, I genuinely think there is no high that’s the same as meeting new people and getting to know them.
So, yeah, that first week –getting to know the internationals and a few Americans, and just stuff like that. Going to Wendy’s for the first time. Just those kind of silly firsts that Americans would be like “Really?” But when you are coming from somewhere that’s so different, it makes an impression.
Oh, and the football game. That was my favorite.
Q: What do you look most forward to here at UNC Charlotte and in America?
A: I want to do a bit more traveling –hopefully to Boston. I want to go to some stereotypically American things, like a baseball game, NASCAR races, go shooting which I feel like I need to do that.
Nothing in particular. Just see how it goes. It’s the little things, isn’t it? Just like walking around campus and seeing the rush posters for all the fraternities and sororities. When I walk by them I just think, “That is so American.”
Q: What is something that you would like UNC Charlotte students to know about your home country?
A: Well, every time I meet an American they ask me if we eat scones and drink a lot of tea, that is true.
I have at least five cups of tea a day. It’s cold back home; you need the tea to get you through the day. It does rain all the time, it is true. I think most of the stereotypes of the English are actually true. We are not as friendly as Americans, until you get to know us.
I think the culture shock for Americans who come to Europe will be way bigger than for us coming here, because of Americanization all over the world.
Studies: History and politics
Hometown: Reigate in Surrey, England
Home university: The University of Kent
Favorite color: Sea blue
Favorite food: Pasta
What do you miss most from home? The way of life. Everythingís so much quicker. Especially in London you can get anywhere in a decent time. Where here, especially because we are internationals and we do not have cars, it takes a while to get anywhere.
Favorite quote: ìLife is like an ocean. It can be calm and still or rough and rigid, but in the end it is always beautiful.î
Fun fact: Her full name is Nicole Marie Joanna Louise Carmen Demech Debono. Nicole Marie are her first and second names. Joanna and Louise were given to her by her godfather and godmother, respectively. Carmen was given to her by the church in which she was baptized as is the tradition. Demech Debono is her double-barreled last name.