The Five Best Things About Studying Abroad – US Edition
Last year I was extremely lucky to take part in an exchange programme. This meant that I spent my second year studying at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, in the United States. I had known from a fairly young age that I wanted to get out and see the world, so I had been saving up and planning on doing a year abroad, and let me tell you, it exceeded every expectation! There are many different and amazing things about studying abroad, but I have listed what I think are the best five things!
1. American College Traditions
Before going abroad, the only things I knew about college in The States was from what I had seen in movies… you would be surprised at how much of that actually happens. Our collage’s team was the New Mexico Lobos, and the entire city were behind them! I experienced my first ever basketball and football game (and tailgate before the matches!). I was there for homecoming, and finally understood what midterms were…
Also, the red cup thing? Absolutely true.
(Cheering on the Lobo’s basketball team at the pit)
In the UK, we have Bank Holidays. In the US, they have Labour Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Halloween was a month-long event involving serious costume planning, pumpkin carving and house decorating. I even won a competition with my American roommate for best decorated door! I also got to experience my first ever Thanksgiving! It was kind of like Christmas, but without the presents; but who am I to turn down a chance to have a massive homecooked meal? In Albuquerque they even have fall break, specifically to celebrate the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Imagine hundreds of hot air balloons going up at once. Something I will not forget anytime soon!
(Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta)
3. Road Trips
One of the best things about all of these holidays is all of the road trips you can take on them. There is no better way to get to know people than to get in a car and drive thousands of miles with them. On my road trips, we had such an eclectic mix of music on our playlists, from Earth, Wind and Fire and Adele. The trips we went on led to all sorts of adventures, from visiting the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley. I got to see the most amazing things. We even road tripped down the West Coast for Christmas. I am going to be spending quite a few years trying to beat driving down Highway 1 on New Years day.
(Road tripping into the sunset)
4. Sense of Adventure
When I left to go on my study abroad experience, I was only eighteen years old. I was the youngest exchange student out of about three hundred. However, the adventure of starting a whole new life for myself, thousands of miles away from home, is one that I would not have missed for the world. I have been able to travel to all sorts of places, and meet all sorts of people. Studying abroad is one of the scariest thing in the world, but I believe it is also one of the most rewarding things in the world.
(Surprisingly, not the Grand Canyon, but Canyonlands in Utah)
5. The People
By far my favourite thing about my studying abroad experience was the people I met out there. When you are 5000 miles away from home, and no family around you, the people you meet become your family. If you have a problem, then you cannot call home, so you call your friends. You organise trips with them, you study with them, and you experience the highs and lows of this amazing experience with them. Even when you come home, that is the one part of studying abroad that continues on, because you meet up, have reunions, and holidays with them. If nothing else, look at all the free accommodation I now have all over the world!
(Myself and the only other Scottish person in the university: photo by Grace Feakes)
(All pictures Emilie’s own and https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=study+abroad&safe=strict&rlz=1C1CHWA_e… )