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Cecily-PaldinoAfter living in Bournemouth for 10 months, I can confidently say that Bournemouth is a smaller, British version of Southern California (minus the amount of rain… if Bournemouth could donate a bit of that rain to drought-ridden California, that would be much appreciated). Perhaps it is from the sunny beaches with sparkling water and an abundance of seagulls, to the stunning pier and local ice cream stand that reminds me a little bit of my own beachside at home. However, although Bournemouth may look a bit like Oceanside, California, there are of course, differences – but that is all part of the experience of living abroad as an international student. This blog post will touch on the simpler things, such as finding a salon for beauty needs to those home-country food cravings, to the complexities of travelling (a new concept to me), as well as the generalities of what it is like to be a United States Citizen in the United Kingdom.

Cecily - Bournemouth pier

Bournemouth Pier


Cecily - Bournemouth beach

Oceanside Pier, California (my hometown!)

Finding your salon (perhaps just a Californian problem?)

Prior to living in Bournemouth, I was a resident of Iowa, USA. If you are familiar with United States
geography, Iowa is a good distance away from my home of
Southern California. I have already had experience of moving far away from home, and therefore, some of the challenges I faced in Iowa resurfaced when I moved to Bournemouth. One challenge that may seem a little random (and perhaps Too Much Information) is my desperate need of a salon. As a person of Italian/Cuban descent, there always seems to be an abundance of dark hair upon my face.  As much as I would like not to experience hot wax underneath my eyebrows or upon my upper lip once a month, it has been an inevitable experience for me since the ripe age of 12. Therefore, I always make it a priority to find a nearby salon that will cater to my hairy needs. Fortunately enough for me, just down the street from my studio flat in Chesil House, is a salon called Coast Hair and Beauty. It’s just a short five minute walk from my home and the customer service is great, even by Californian standards!

Check out their website here.

If you are sushi obsessed like me…

If I could have sushi every day for the rest of my life, I would most likely be the happiest person on this planet. But, good sushi is hard to come by. One thing I was worried about when I moved to Bournemouth, and well… England in general… is if I would have access to sushi that made my heart sing. I’ve had my fair share of pre-packaged grocery store sushi and the disappoint that came with it, so I hoped and prayed that perhaps Bournemouth would have a local  restaurant that catered to my taste buds. Bournemouth excelled, of course, and gave me the gift that is The Nippon Inn, an Izakaya Japanese restaurant.

Cecily---suhi Cecily - sushi 2

I don’t want to risk sounding too dramatic, but I may or may not have shed a few tears when a friend (another American – we are all just sushi fanatics, aren’t we…) and I found this restaurant in Charminster, just a short bus ride away from downtown Lansdowne. Not only is the sushi delicious, but the service is wonderful and the restaurant itself is a hidden treasure. With beautiful, traditional Japanese décor, you really feel as if you are no longer in England anymore upon walking in. They even have tatami window cushions, a traditional style of Japanese seating arrangements where it is customary to take off your shoes before sitting down.  I always try to book in advance for the tatami table, as it just makes the experience all the better. So, if you are a lover of sushi like me, definitely take time out of your day to pop into Nippon Inn. Even if you aren’t a fan of raw fish, they have noodle dishes that are just as delicious.

Check out their website here.

So, what is it truly like in Bournemouth?

Living abroad, of course, has its challenges. There are times when I can’t find a certain brand of food that I miss, or even the simple task of ordering an iced tea at my local Starbucks earns me a few weird looks. But at the end of the day, the challenges that I have are so minor in comparison to the bigger picture. I’ve not only discovered more about myself as a person, but I’ve learned things such as adaptability and bravery. England, perhaps one of the most similar countries to that of the United States, is a perfect stepping stone to my desire to live in even more diverse places. Now that I know I can live far from home – over an entire ocean – I feel brave enough to spread my wings even wider. After earning my Master’s, the dreaded job search will begin. However, I can now see myself living anywhere in the world. Maybe I can continue my tread of living on islands – such as Japan or even Australia. I never would have considered any of those places if it weren’t for my experience living right here in Bournemouth. As someone who used to hate change and fear something going amiss, living in a new country has given me the adaptability skills that I can carry into my career and life.

Bournemouth is much more than just a coastal city in South West England for me. It is more than simply getting my Master’s degree. Bournemouth is a gift and an opportunity to better myself.

By Cecily Paldino, MSc Forensic Anthropology