Courtney Gonnering is a
University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point student studying at Hope
University in Liverpool, England for
the Fall 2013 semester.
Here’s a quick lowdown on
Everyone over the age of 40 will
call you “love.” They don’t actually
love you and it’s not meant to be
Tea does not always mean the
drink. Tea is also what they call
dinner in England.
If you aren’t wearing more than
a pound of make-up or a dress that
would make your grandmother
cringe while going out on Saturday
night, you won’t fit in.
Always talk to the taxi driver.
They know everything about the city and the best places to eat. They will
also make fun of you for going to a
dodgy tourist town two hours away
to see Christmas lights.
After having spent a little over
a month across the pond, I have
learned many lessons, but definitely
not lessons taught in a classroom.
I have learned trivial things,
such as how to navigate public
transportation, how to explain where
Wisconsin is in America, and what
the English think a rubber is—it’s an
I have learned more profound
lessons as well, like that other
countries view “Merica” quite a bit
differently than those who emblaze
upon their chest the good old red,
white and blue. They critically
analyse our health care, education
and political systems.
When I stepped off the plane
and made my way to Liverpool, I
began to understand what it meant to be completely independent. It was
liberating, yet scary.
I was used to friends or family to
depend on. When I would travel with
my family, I was always a passenger
just along for the ride. Now I was
driver and that meant figuring out
what to do and when to do it.
There was also the challenge that
all students face when breaking from
the cozy Debot Fine Dining Hall. As
a person who lived in the dorms with
a meal plan for my first two years, I
was thrown into the world of cooking
and buying food for myself. Except
here I was faced with the extra step of
figuring out where to purchase food,
as Walmart does not exist in England.
On the other hand, I learned about
the importance of interdependence
and relying on others. I quickly
made friends that became my support
system and I felt like a freshman all
over again-- lost and confused.
I had to swallow my pride and ask questions that seemed to have
obvious answers, ask for directions,
and occasionally admit that I had
absolutely no idea what was going
Through these seemingly minor
blunders I have gained confidence
in talking to others and have become
more informed about the world
Through this experience I have
become more open to change.
Spontaneous adventure is a
crucial component to enjoying life.
I wouldn’t have friends around the
world, gone to Ireland travelling solo
for a week, made that last second
decision to see Christmas lights, or
even gone to study abroad at all if
I had been afraid of the things that
could go wrong.
Cheers from Liverpool!