Things to Know

This page is a conglomeration of all the places and things that get mentioned throughout my posts. Wondering what something is? Check it here, and if it's not listed, let me know and I'll add a post!


Brunel University. Located in Uxbridge, and named after the famed British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

This is where I am currently studying.


Central London. Because Brunel is on the outskirts of London, technically in Middlesex, I have to take about a 45-60 minute tube ride to get into the heart of London. But Brunel is considered to be in "West London". It's all London. But the main city is sometimes called Central to us students.

Chimes, The

One of the two shopping centers in Uxbridge. It's the nicer of the two. This one has more "high-end" shops like the Gap, H&M, M&S, Starbucks, and other stores that are name-brand. Fun fact: The Chimes was used to film an episode of the UK comedy, "The Inbetweeners" for season 3!

High Street

The main shopping areas of town. All the ones I've been too so far are pedestrian-only and are lined with shops on both sides. And no matter what time of day, there always seems to be a ton of people. Shops usually close early, but are open late on Thursdays (until 7!).


The on-campus accommodation complex especially for postgraduate students. The seventeen buildings are arranged in flats, with about ten rooms and one kitchen in each flat. Luckily, there's a private bathroom for each room!

Pavilions, The

One of the two shopping centers in Uxbridge. It's the bargain-shopping spot with stores like Poundland, T.K. Maxx, Iceland, and Wilkinsons. Usually a temporary market opens up shop on Tuesdays in the atrium so you can buy random stuff as well.

Oh, the life of a grad student.

One thing that's been really great about Brunel University is their activities they schedule for students. Especially postgraduate and international students.

Lucky for me, I fall into both categories, so I get double the school-sponsored fun!

You would think that the life of a graduate student is pretty dull. I've heard horror stories about late-night assignments and running around campus with no makeup on and wearing sweatpants (gasp!). But so far things seem to be pretty awesome for me. And I always go out fully dressed and made up - so maybe that's just American universities?

But in between my lectures, readings, and assignments, I've found plenty of activities around campus to keep me busy.

A couple of weeks ago, the graduate school hosted a wonderful cookout (or barbeque as they like to call it - but nothing like the delicious BBQ that Americans know and love) for all of the postgraduate students.

We all queued (oh man, check out my lingo!) for a long time, but only to be rewarded with a free burger and mocktail of our choice.

To keep us all entertained, the school hired a band, had giant versions of games for us to play, a big tent with decorations and a dance floor, and hookahs for all! I taught everyone there that you should never try to beat an American in Connect Four. I was the champion! haha

The afternoon was a lot of fun and went well into the evening, because the on-campus nightclub, The Academy, had a free post-grad student only club night following the cookout.

It was a fun afternoon and I got to hang out with my fellow postgraduate intellectuals and meet a bunch of awesome people. So now I recognize a few more faces around campus and I know a few more names. Perhaps I'll run into some of them at the Graduate School Coffee and Tea Tuesdays? After all, I'm sure all those late-night assignment writings will ensure that a lot of students arrive for free caffiene...

And yes, that is a bouncy castle in the bottom picture. And yes I jumped in it. I may be a grad student, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun!

The Language Barrier

One of the big positives of going to school in England is that I wouldn't have to worry about speaking another language in order to complete my assignments and understand what's going on in lectures. And for the most part, that's proven to be true. But I've found that there is a bit of a language barrier due to the huge number of international students.

If you come from a non-English speaking country, such as China, you are required to take an English proficiency exam in order to prove that you can speak English well enough to complete your studies. But I've found that even with those exams, a lot of the non-English speakers have some trouble understanding me. Especially the ones that have never really studied or traveled outside of their own country.

And what I've found interesting about that is that I'm forced to really think about what I'm saying in order to make it easier for everyone to understand. That and I end up explaining what different words mean - which has actually proved to be kind of difficult for me in some cases. Like, try and explain what "awkward" means to someone who doesn't speak English! And for anyone who really knows me, you know that "awkward" is a pretty prominent word in my vocabulary!

The most surprising language barrier that I've come across is not actually with non-English speakers, but with the English themselves! There's a whole 'nother set of terminology that they use to name things! And in a lot of cases, such as with chips and crisps, it gets kind of confusing sometimes when I'm shopping or out to eat.

So here is a short list of some of the vocab that I've collected so far. American English on the left, UK English on the right.

Chips = Crisps
Fries = Chips
Soccer = Football
Football = American Football (But no one knows anything about football here!)
Elevator = Lift
Mailbox (like one in the wall with a lock) = Pigeon Hole
Line (like you wait in) = Queue
Mail = Post
Movie = Film
Movie Theater = Cinemas
Reduced-fat Milk (like 1% or 2%) = Semi-skimmed Milk
Baking Soda = Sodium Bicarbonate
Marinara Sauce = Bolognese
Carbonated = Sparkling (they don't say Coke is carbonated on the bottle, it says sparkling)
Plain Potato Chips = Ready Salted Crisps
Professors = Tutors
Concert = Gig
Subway = Tube
Restrooms = Toilets (toilets to me is just a little too blunt... haha)
Checking Account (at a bank) = Current Account
Apartment = Flat

So as you can see, I've got some vocab to learn! And I'm sure there's plenty more, but those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure this list will grow as my adventures continue.