Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I picked up a packet at the IPE office today that contained an actual application to the University of Aberdeen and a "pre-departure guide" that is supposed to prepare me for life in the UK. It made me nervous at first when I realized that I had to apply directly to the University of Aberdeen as well, but I guess if it wasn't a foregone conclusion that I was in, they wouldn't have given me a pre-departure guide at all. Right?

The booklet is filled with the kinds of details that would have taken hours to pump out of Marianne were I simply to ask her about them, but it's written in a style reminiscent of the match.com profile that tried to be my buddy. It opens with the sentences, "Congratulations! You are about to embark on a journey that will change you forever! Does the thought of change make you a 'wee' bit nervous?" I have to wonder if the pre-departure guide for studying in the US opens with, "Congratulations! You are about to embark on a journey that you 'ain't' going to forget as long as you live!"

A few more bizarre tidbits sprinkled throughout the guide:

"Be spontaneous! Be adventurous! Don't be afraid to experiment. This is an opportunity to eat things you have never eaten and see places you've never seen."

"Just keep an open mind, don't order iced tea and you'll be fine!" This cryptic piece of advice is never explained, but it is reiterated in big red letters in the margin. Can someone fill me in? Is iced tea the British word for terrorism? What?

"While you are packing, make a list of what you have packed in each suitcase (especially Mr. Teddy, he's priceless!) in case you need to make a claim."

"Plastic is the international language."

Seriously, though, this guide is pretty damn thorough. This kind of detail about every aspect of studying abroad, from packing to reverse culture shock upon returning home, is giving me the butterflies in my stomach that I was talking about not having the other day. I looked up from reading it after an hour and was startled to find I was still in America.



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