I came to UMass from the UK and it’s you guys who are weird

‘I’m not weird, I’m just British’

Since arriving at UMass from the United Kingdom, I have been told many of the things I say, things I like, as well as the University background I come from, is “weird”.

Well, I have news for you guys, I’ve found you weird too.

I’ve decided to create a list of the immediate differences between university here and back in England.

Is it college, university or school?

During my first days here, I spoke to many Americans who were so excited to be “back at college” and “back at school”.

In England, the term “school” finishes when you’re 18 (we don’t graduate, we sort of get kicked out). If you’re adventurous you can leave school at 16 and go to “college”, an institution similar to school but with the freedom of University.

Then, at 18 you choose to go to “university”, or “uni” which are the only terms it is identified by.

It would be really great if you could settle on the word university too, because isn’t there a U in UMass for a reason?!


21 as the legal drinking age is crazy, especially when you can drive at 16 in the US. In England, you can have a cider with a meal at the age of 16, and at 18 you can do whatever the hell you’d like.

It is very rare to begin university in England under the age of 18, so basically everyone on campus can drink.

Back home, we have a bar, pub, and club on campus, which is great for cheap booze. It was depressing when I saw UPub, knowing that a casual Friday afternoon pint would be so close, yet so far.

After a full day of sitting and listening, a well earned pint of Hooch shall be sorely missed…


When I first heard this, I thought it was some sort of power play between teachers and students – I then discovered it is the course system.

In the UK, you choose a course, then pick a uni, then sign your life over to the course department until you graduate. There are no general education classes (which I feel bad for you about, I’d rather work in McDonald’s than be made to do math) and we have no chance at creating a random degree.

The strangest yet best degree combination I’ve heard so far has to be a major in Biology and a minor in Theatre: I imagine someone in a Lab coat reciting Shakespeare.

School spirit

Hordes of students wearing UMass branded apparel? Back home, this is not a thing. At my campus shop you can choose from a small variety of t-shirts and sweaters in a random variety of colours, all emblazoned with the exact same logo. You might be able to get a branded mug or keyring at a push.

However, seeing parents wear “UMass Dad” t-shirts has been hilarious, and my dad is definitely getting one for Christmas.

‘Hello Professor’

Do all Professors here demand you use their full title? I made a mistake during my first interaction with aprofessor – I called her by her first name, to which I was met with a scowl and a stern correction.

I felt like saying “I respect you’ve worked hard to be called professor so-and-so, but it would make morning classes so much easier if I could just call you Liz.”


The sport facilities here are amazing, and the fact they are free is even better.

In the UK, money isn’t given often to sport facilities or teams, meaning prices are high and equipment is not state-of-the-art. The majority of English universities don’t have their own stadium, so to us the idea is crazy.

My home university has an American Football team and to watch them play means standing around the edge of a muddy field, most probably in the rain…but I guess in England, we do everything in the rain.

What British sport facilities are like – a field

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