Oxford College sophomore Alex Day began school in the United States long before he started his college career, but his true roots lie across the pond in England. “I am British to the blood. I love America! It has done so much for me since it’s ‘the land of dreams,’ but I am English all the way.”
Day comes from very hard-working parents. His dad, a veteran of the British navy, and his mother, who worked in a bank, started from a very modest background and worked their way up in the hotel management business. Neither went to college, but that did not seem to hinder their two sons, Day and his brother, from pursuing higher learning.
“As long as I’m happy, they don’t really care what I do. They’ve always said if I wanted to work at McDonald’s, then that’s fine,” Day said. Day’s parents encourage him and his brother to follow their dreams and their own pursuit of happiness.
Day found his happiness at Oxford College. Even though he did apply to many other big-name schools, he just did not feel that sense of community that he felt at Oxford. “There was no atmosphere. It was just people like robots going around. I was like, ‘I do not want this.’ Eventually, I found Oxford and it was an automatic yes.”
“The thing I love the most about Oxford is the people and being able to walk around and knowing everyone. At the end of the day, the things you are really going to remember are the connections with your friends,” Day said.
Another thing Day enjoys about the Oxford campus is the diversity. His family always encouraged him to learn about new cultures through their trips to Tahiti, Greece and Africa. At Oxford, all of the different cultures are in his own backyard. “I love diversity. Oxford has so many cultures. You get to see where people come from, what things are like in each of their countries and what people need.”
This past summer, Day got the chance to work at Fox Television Studios in Los Angeles. There, Day experienced a whole other side of American culture from the Southern hospitality he was used to in Oxford.
He met stars like Carrie Underwood at the “American Idol” finale, David Beckham at a taping of a TV show, and even went behind the production scenes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” After all the excitement, Day said that while Hollywood is interesting, he still sees the South as more of the definition of American culture.
Despite being so far away from his English family, Day, his brother, and his parents still incorporate the British way of life at home. One of the biggest things to Day’s heart is utilizing the British slang in the household.
“It is my family’s own little thing. Even though everyone in England uses that slang, over here, it’s our own thing. Americans don’t understand it when I say, ‘I want to go to the loo’ or ‘up the apples and pears.’” The ‘loo’ is Day’s British way of saying he wants to go to the bathroom and ‘apples and pears’ is another British slang word for stairs.
Day still very much identifies with the U.K. more than the U.S. After Day gets his psychology degree from Emory, he plans to go back to England and work in the entertainment business. He hopes he can use his Emory education and his internship experience to shed a light on something that is very close to his heart — mental illness.
Mental illness has been a big topic in the U.S. lately with its related violence, including the Sandy Hook, Conn., school shooting, but it has always been a reality in Day’s life. His older brother has bipolar disorder, which not many people understand. Day hopes to produce something in entertainment to, “Shine a light on what bipolar really is.”
“Mental disorders are just as complicated and harmful as cancer. They can have a big impact on your family,” Day said.
Until then, Day is observing many different cultures at Oxford, hoping that he can use the knowledge from in and out of the classroom to help his dream of creating more of an awareness of mental disorders.