The Center for International Affairs interviewed Matt Hively about his study abroad experience in Manchester and how it changed his global perspective.
Where did you study abroad? How did you choose your programs?
During the spring 2014 semester, I chose to study abroad at the University of Manchester. The main reason for choosing the University of Manchester was due to its nationally ranked chemical engineering department. Another reason I chose this location was so I could attend a Manchester United fixture.
How has studying abroad changed your global perspective?
By studying abroad, I was able to personally see the differences between England and the U.S. There were many cultural differences I did not know existed. I thought Manchester would not be much different than any other place in the U.S., but this was wrong. Other than speaking English, there were many differences. By studying abroad, my global perspectives changed about Manchester. In Manchester, people don’t really acknowledge strangers. What I mean by this is that there was no random head nodding or talking among strangers. When in public, they usually keep to themselves. When they do talk to someone, they stand further apart compared to us Americans. Also, the homeless people there were surprising friendly, with the exception of some. If they asked for some spare changed and you didn’t have any for them, they would apologize for asking and bothering you.
What was something funny that happened to you while studying abroad?
Something funny that happened to me while studying abroad didn’t happen in Manchester, but rather in London. I was with other students who were studying abroad... As we were paying for our dinner at a restaurant in London, the workers behind the counter asked where we were from. I thought it was obviously that we were from the United States, so I had two of the workers guess which country. The first repose was Germany and then France. Once the one worker guessed Canada, we responded, “Close, a little further south.” With no hesitation, the other worker responded, “South Africa!” Eventually we told him that we were from the United States. It made us feel good that we didn’t stand out as stereotypical Americans.
How did classes you took abroad differ from courses offered on campus at CWRU?
There were a couple ways the classes I took in Manchester differed from the classes I’m used to taking at CWRU. First off, the days and hours of the classes were not split up evenly throughout the week. With the classes I have taken at CWRU, they are usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday. Then the class time is split up evenly among those days. At Manchester, I may have class only on two days, with one hour the first day and two hours of the class the other day. Or I could have the class all in one day, sitting in a lecture for three hours in the morning. I ended up not having class on Wednesdays which was a great midweek break. Another difference was the students in the classes. Unlike most universities here in the U.S., students there do not take classes outside of their major. For me, I took one anthropology class. This was difficult because the professor assumed every student in the room was majoring in anthropology and knew every anthropologist name he mentioned.
What advice do you have for students who are considering study abroad?
Some advice I have for students considering a study abroad is, stop considering and just do it! No matter where you decide to study, you will always have a unique experience. Maybe your friend didn’t have a great time, but they are not you. Unless you get a traveling job when you graduate, you won’t be able to stay in another country for such a prolonged period of time. By staying in another country for many months, you get to immerse yourself in their culture. You will be happy you studied abroad and it will be an experience you will never forget.
What places are next on your bucket list?
I really do not have any particular place next on my bucket list, but I would like to go somewhere in South America. I’m still in the thought process of exactly where in South America though. Maybe somewhere I could hike the Andes Mountains.