For all of us Harry Potter fans out there, let’s be real. We’ve all fantasized endlessly about joining Harry and Oliver on their brooms and going for a quick game of Quidditch, right? Well, for UCSB student Will, who’s studying abroad at the University of Leeds, this dream has become a reality! Read on to see what it’s like for a real life Quidditch player…
- Could you introduce yourself to us quickly?
My name is Will Ramsay. I am a third year Communications major studying abroad at the University of Leeds. My home university is UCSB, and boy do I miss the sunshine!
2. What are some of the bigger differences between England and California? Did you expect these differences before coming abroad?
The main differences are the weather, the driving, and the food. It doesn’t sound like much, and that is because there is a lot similar to California, a rather laid back student culture, thriving night life, and fairly liberal. I knew the weather would be cold and rainy, and I prepared as best I could, but some days the wind cuts through all five layers you are wearing. Obviously they drive on the left side of the road here in England, but it is overall more confusing here as well. There are lots of divides in the road to force lanes certain directions, extra stoplights, and round-a-bouts. Round-a-bouts everywhere. I can’t help but think how straight forward our perpendicular intersections are in America, and how much I miss looking left right left, instead of right left right. I cannot begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to street tacos when I get back. There isn’t any good Mexican food in England (which makes sense, it’s nowhere near). Instead, there is a greater influence on Indian food and Halal food. Rather than get a late night burrito at Freebirds, we get a late night doner kebab and chips at Big Bite. My cooking skills are slowly but surely expanding as well.
3. Why did you choose the University of Leeds? How are you liking studying abroad there?
There were a couple steps to picking Leeds. I picked England because Scotland did not have any communication classes, but I still wanted to go to the UK. I picked a couple places that were cities, but not nearly as big as London (because they get way more expensive). I ended up picking Leeds because it seemed like a great up and coming city, and it is about mid way between Edinburgh and London, making going to Scotland easy and getting home quicker.
4. You’re on the Quidditch Team at Leeds. For some die hard HP fans, this is an absolute dream come true. How did you come to join the team?
I joined Quidditch with a friend of mine. They had an event called a Give it a Go, where people can try clubs and societies without feeling like they are jumping in the deep end. That day changed my study abroad experience. The game and the people of Quidditch are so incredible, and I have learned so much, made strong friendships, and finally had a reason to get in shape.
5. What does a typical Quidditch practice session or match entail? How does one actually play Quidditch without flying? Tell us all about it, please!
A typical practice starts with scrimmages, where we see what we need to work on for the day, usually for 45 min/1 hour. Then we do drills, like passing, weaving, beating, and tackling (yes, tackling. Quidditch is full contact, something I did not realize on day one). We then take what we learned and apply it in more scrimmages. The whole practice lasts three hours, and at the beginning, I was dead at the end, but now I just want to keep playing! My team is incredible. The team does go to tournaments, though there aren’t too many yet. We just had a Northern regional tournament, where we got sixth place out of twenty teams. (I was unable to join, as I was celebrating Thanksgiving with my fellow study abroad peers). I just played in what are called merc tournaments, where captains pick their players and make hodgepodge teams to play. It was really fun, and a great learning experience.
And yes, we do still play on brooms, just not in the air. We have to be mounted on a broom at all times, or we have to tag back in at our hoops. For those interested, I recommend this video. The only difference is we don’t let our snitch leave the pitch, they have to stay within the boundary. It’s not as nerdy a sport as one would think, I promise you that.
6. How has study abroad impacted you so far?
Studying abroad has been quite an experience thus far. I am getting my first taste of being on my own, making my own food, buying all my kitchen and bathroom supplies, doing laundry, and keeping up the flat, which many of my friends are doing now as well, but in another country. This opens my eyes to budgeting, to brand awareness, to scheduling and delegating responsibilities in a whole new way. All of my costs are in another currency, all of the brands look similar but have different names (for example, Frosted Flakes, brand name cereal in America, is called Frosties here, while the generic brand is called Frosted Flakes), all of my flatmates have schedules that need accommodating. and I am 5,000 miles away from home. It has given me an appreciation for what I have back home, and an understanding of a new culture, a new dialect, and a new life stage.
7. Do you have any advice for students who are studying abroad and want to get involved with their host university?
Join societies. Try lots of different things, the things you are good at and the things you never thought you would try. I joined Leeds Student Television because I want to work at a television station, and I joined Quidditch to goof around with my friend, and I have not regretted either decision. There are so many great people and experiences to be had at your host university, and societies are the gateway.