When UCLA student Harry Kidd arrived in London to study abroad at King’s College, he knew he wanted to immerse himself in British culture. But he hasn’t just learned the history of his country of study, he’s learned its sport too.
Studying as a medieval history student at King’s College London, I have immersed myself in the England of the past by traveling to places such as Hastings, the sight of the Norman Conquest in 1066. I’ve walked through the old woods and countryside there and looked out on the coast, trying to imagine a fleet of Norman ships landing on the coast. Studying history has been a fantastic way to immerse myself in the culture of the country I study in. Sport, on the other hand, immerses you in an entirely separate—yet still historical—sector of society.
I joined KCL Cricket shortly after the ‘Fresher’s Fair’. I had thought about playing rugby, but my mother told me my teeth were too expensive. One of the best things about universities in London is that they have so many societies, teams, and clubs. I had always wanted to learn more about cricket, and so I met the team at a student bar a few weeks before practice. The sports teams at King’s College London are extremely dedicated and widely inclusive. As one of the team’s two Americans, I was immediately treated as just another cricketer; this is a goal I have applied to most things in London. I knew almost nothing about cricket upon entering the meeting, and by the end I still was confused. Getting to practice with the boys was one of the many new experiences I’ve had here in London. Not only was it my second month in a new country, but I was south of the river playing a sport that is quintessentially British. Cricket, although often compared to baseball, from an American perspective is really nothing like it—but they are both stickball games. The bowler ‘bowls’ the cricket ball at the batsman, attempting to strike a clump of posts behind him, called wickets. Bowlers, unlike baseball pitchers, cannot bend their throwing arm, and so must resort to a unique dance that lets them throw the ball straight. It is extremely difficult work. The batsman must anticipate the trajectory, and hit the ball far enough to rack up runs, or points.
This has been challenging, but a blast to learn. I could have easily starting playing a sport I had background in. I could have easily not joined a society. I think that the most important thing about being abroad is your ability to acclimate quickly. Through cricket I have met some really fun people, gotten to see London, learn about the game, but also learn even more about British and English culture by spending time with fellow sportsmen.