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Moving to America: My Study Abroad Experience So Far

I can’t believe that I’ve been living in America for a month already! Recently I set off on my year abroad to the University at Albany in New York State. It’s definitely been an adventure travelling here but I’m so happy that I ventured out to live in a different country. Sure it’s been emotional, saying goodbye to family and friends, and of course Nottingham. But after months of planning, preparing, and spending what seemed like a lifetime getting a visa, I’m finally here and the experience so far has been great! 

The Fountain at the University at Albany

The best part about going to the University at Albany is that I’m only 2 hours away from New York City! I will definitely be taking advantage of that throughout the year. It’s also close to so many other big cities too like Boston, Washington DC and Montreal. I’ve already been to New York twice now, once when I first arrived in America and once a on a day trip. I can’t wait to explore the rest of the country.

The New York Skyline from the Top of the Rock

There have been some difficulties with living in the USA. Although we have quite a similar culture and society, there are lots of things that are different and take some time getting used to. Having gone to New York City a few times I thought I had an idea of what life here would be like but living here in a smaller town is completely different. The worst part is the drinking age over here. Having been able to drink for almost 3 years makes it really difficult to be told you can’t drink here. Also, sports is a huge part of the culture here which can be a good thing but for someone who has never liked sports it can be strange to get used to. It was a fun experience to go to the first American Football game of the season though (even if I had no idea what was going on). 

First American Football Game

One great thing about America is the food! You are never far away from a delicious slice of pizza. In fact I think pizza takes up most of what I eat here. Living in New York State also means plenty of delicious bagels and coffee. There are so many options for food here even in a small city like Albany. I may be so unhealthy by the time this year is over but all this delicious food is worth it. There are also huge malls here with loads of typically American shops like Hollister and Forever 21. I often make frequent visits to Walmart too. The one in Albany is the biggest Walmart in America and has 2 floors and an escalator specifically for trollies next to the normal escalators (yes, it’s as strange as it sounds). 

Pizza so big that it requires two plates

College life over here is quite different to home. There are the usual halls, or dorms as they call them here, but the rules are stricter and we have roommates. Classes here are quite different too. We have pop quizzes all the time and a lot of reading and essays are spread out across the term rather than doing one big essay at the end of term. Classes are much more like high school here, with a maximum of only 30 people in English and History classes, rather than huge lectures at Universities in England. Another difference is that house parties are the only form of going out unless you are 21 and can get into a bar. They are very stereotypically American too with red cups and kegs and they are usually hosted by Fraternities.

One thing Americans love is a British accent, they seriously can’t get enough of it. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard “Oh my God, I love your accent!”, and then been asked to say a variety of words. Americans are really friendly, sometimes overly friendly, but it’s nice compared to avoiding eye contact and never talking to people in public in England. Another strange thing is getting used to all the American words that are different from English like chips instead of crisps (that one has caused so much confusion) and trash instead rubbish. 

The Candlelight and Fireworks Ceremony to Welcome New Students

Overall, my experience here so far has been really fun, even if American life has taken some getting used to. I feel like I’ve done so much already and I’ve only been here a month, from going to the Mall all the time, going to Frat parties and travelling to New York City for less than £30! I can’t wait to see what other adventures I’ll get up to on my year abroad. 

Edited by Harriet Dunlea

Sophie is a 4th year student at the University of Nottingham, England. She is studying American Studies and would love a career in Journalism or Public Relations (preferably while living in NYC). Sophie has been a Fashion Blogger at HC Nottingham since she started at the University at Nottingham in 2012/13. She was also a Publicity Intern during her second year at HC Nottingham in 2013/14. She was a Campus Correspondent during her year abroad for HC Albany as well as contributing to writing for HC Nottingham. She is currently the Head of Publicity for Her Campus, as well as continuing to write fashion blogs. She is a self proclaimed fashion and make-up addict and she also enjoys travelling, reading, (excessively) watching TV shows and films, music, shopping and of course writing for Her Campus! 
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