Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

After a 14-hour flight and a quick (and when I say quick, I mean four days) pit-stop at Oktoberfest, I finally landed at the Manchester airport earlier this week, where I was immediately greeted by representatives from the University of York and chauffeured to my new home in Heslington, England. Despite the cold, rainy weather and the lack of Chick-fil-a’s, I was pleasantly surprised by the university’s picturesque campus, which is divided by a quaint river that connects two lakes. With rolling hills, winding roads, and elaborate bridges, the university is both geographically enchanting and quite easy to get lost (trust me, I would know from personal experience).

Another aspect of the University of York that made an immediate impression on me is its unique college system- think modern-day version of Harry Potter’s Sorting Ceremony meets the English version of a fraternity. Essentially, all first year and international students, or “freshers” as we are coined here, are systematically placed in one of nine living/learning communities and are highly encouraged to eat, sleep, and breathe our college colors over the entire duration of our uni experience. Whether you are a Halifax lion or a Wentworth tiger, you can be confident that your new college will support and guide you throughout your time here and beyond. While this whole system may sound a little strange, I am continuously impressed by the overwhelming pride of its members and the level of inclusion that my new home at Halifax College has to offer.

From pub quizzes (aka, “quizzo”), to tea and biscuits, to club nights in town and everything in between, the Halifax lions have planned exclusive events for its members that appeal to a variety of interests. And what is the best part of it all, you may ask? The cheers, of course. Yes… you read that right. Imagine my surprise when I boarded the campus bus for a club night in town only to hear our rival college screaming “I’m Langwith, I’m Langwith, I’m Langwith ‘til I die!” I was even more in shock when my college’s upperclassmen and peer mentors began rebutting with chants that are- let’s just say- not appropriate to include in this blog. Although my allegiance to Halifax is still forming, I look forward to the day when I will confidently join my college in defending our honor by sporting our house colors and joining in on the playful banter of chants.

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