Hopkins from the International Perspective

Name: Tabitha Moses (read my profile)

Year: Class of 2011

Hometown: Oxford, England

Major: Neuroscience

Previous Guest Blog entries:

April 3, 2008: Hopkins Cribs: Wolman 302A, click here.

December 6, 2007: What’s Up in Wolman 3 East, click here.


Hello again, I am back for my semesterly ramblings on my life here at Hopkins. As I’m sure you remember from my earlier blog, I am an international student, so I figure I’d write this semester’s entry on what it’s like for me at Hopkins as an international student.

I have been asked a lot of random questions about what it’s like going to university in a country that I’ve never lived in, so I thought I’d write a bit about each basic area.

Something I am always asked while in England is whether I find the classes here easy because I’ve done it all before in high school. The assumption is that in the UK schools teach you a lot more, and to a greater standard than in the US, and that the first couple years of college in the states is like the last couple years of high school in England. I have absolutely no idea where this idea comes from, but let me tell you, it’s not true!

I mean, yes, if I took A-level (equivalent of IB or AP) chemistry then I would probably find general chemistry easier than those people who haven’t taken it before, but that’s the point of being able to pass out of classes. Although, there is one downside to passing out of classes, especially so as an international student: assumed knowledge. Each of the different examinations teach different material; for example, in A level Chem, I Benzeneorbitals didn’t really learn anything about orbitals, which you cover pretty extensively as an AP Chem student! This meant that I had a few problems adjusting to a class like Orgo (Organic Chemistry) where some of the assumed knowledge was knowledge I’d never had, let alone assumed. So yes, classes are a change and are, of course, harder than high school; but that’s the same no matter what country you come from.

From the age of 5 on I lived in a small village, near Oxford. It was the sort of place from television shows, with a pharmacy, a butcher, a bakery, a little grocery store, and an odd knick-knack store. We had a local school, and any time you went out you would always bump into someone you knew.

Now, of course, Baltimore is nothing like this. Baltimore is like any big city; it has all the shops, and the different areas, the bad and the good neighborhoods. So obviously, it was very different to home. However, there was something that didn’t change, and that’s the nice friendly atmosphere where you always bump into someone you know.

The area is completely different to anything I ever saw at home, but I don’t think that is so much something to do with being international, I think it’s more to do with not having lived in a big city. It did mean I had to adjust slightly when I first got here: I had to be more conscious of safety and not walk around by myself in the middle of the night (although that’s something I probably shouldn’t have been doing at home either!)

All, in all, I don’t think that being in a different country has affected how I experience the area around Hopkins. I think that for anyone (who didn’t Baltimore1 already live in Baltimore!) there was a big change moving to Baltimore, but that the Charles Village (area surrounding Hopkins) really gives it a great homey feel.  Plus, I still manage to find myself bumping into all sorts of people that I’ve seen in classes, or at shows, or just friends in all sorts of different places. The thing I do get out of the surrounding area, although a bit silly to say is the best of both worlds. I have access to all the good things a big city has to offer—well, as much can really be said of Baltimore—plus a nice local community with loads of people I know and interact with on a day-to-day basis.

Well, this is an interesting topic. I have found that the way people behave towards others, especially foreigners really differs from country to country, including between the UK and the USA. I don’t want to sound rude, but it seems that when I am in England people tend to be very dismissive of foreigners, and especially rude about Americans (just my observations, I’m not trying to be rude!)

However, when I come here I have found that people are really lovely. I have felt really welcomed, and not treated as “different” because I am not from the same country. Plus they’re not obsessed with checking the football (soccer) scores every five minutes (although I’ve found that a Goringonthames certain friend of mine has a slight baseball problem). And, although it can get incredibly annoying to have people make comments about my accent, and ask me to say things for them, it is always said pleasantly, and I never feel put down after an interaction with a random stranger who tells me that they’ve been to England.

That is one amusing thing that differs.

When I am in England and someone says they’re American, I don’t ever hear someone tell them that they’ve been to America or something similar. However, when I’m in the States I can be doing something like waiting in line at CVS, and someone I don’t know will hear my accent and ask if I’m British, and then tell me they’ve been to England. I am not sure how to respond to this – it seems slightly random!

Okay, well I think that is enough of my ramblings for all of you to bear…at least for now! If you have any questions regarding this or anything else, please contact me on my thread on the message boards. I hope you guys are all having fun choosing which of the colleges you got into, but I’m sure you’ll choose the right one for you in the end.

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