England: Part 5 of our International Students Series
When he landed in America for the first time, London-born Benny Sheinfeld’s first culture shock was that “everyone had such thick American accents,” he laughs.
And that was just the start.
“Everything in America was so…much bigger,” remembers Benny. “The size of a small portion here, in an American restaurant, is the size of a large portion in England. I saw, just this morning, a Slurpee that was like—it must have been— 3 liters. It was huge. You wouldn’t find that anywhere in England. You do have fast food in London,” he qualifies, “but much, much less pronounced than it is here. And even those shops are much nicer, classier. It’s rare to find a fast-food shop that isn’t also a sit-down restaurant.”
Twenty-year-old Benny came to New York from the Golders Green community of London, one that he describes as “very diverse.”
His father, a successful businessman, stems from the Gerrer Chasidic dynasty from Israel, and Benny’s family—though they don’t wear the full garb—follow the minhagim of Ger, and daven at the main Chassidish shul. Benny was the first in his family to attend college. And although he knew he could have joined his father’s real-estate business, which is what all his five other siblings did, “I wanted to start something on my own,” he says. “And in order to do that, I needed a good degree. In England, if you want to learn and earn a degree, there is one program in London, but it doesn’t come close to the structure we have here at LCM.”
Another reason, adds the finance major, was that he had already been living independently, out of his house, for four years. “I couldn’t see myself moving back home to London,” admits the freshman. He had fulfilled his A-levels—England’s version of pre-college qualifications—already as a high-schooler, graduating at age 15. Afterwards, he spent several years attending full-time yeshivos in Israel and Gateshead.
“So although I haven’t been studying for four years already, and it is hard to start now, I want to get back into the academics. I like the independence.”
Another plus: Benny has “loads of friends” in New York. He is actively involved in the nonprofit Jewish community, especially with Chai Lifeline; in Israel, Benny served as the head volunteers of Chayenu, Chai Lifeline’s Israeli branch. Here in the U.S., he is Chai Lifeline's head Shabbaton coordinator.
Advice to international students: “You’d be very lucky if you know people here. I wasn’t warned how big it was here; America is huge. You can’t get around everywhere so easily, or so quickly.”
Future plans: Venture capital (private investments)