By Helen Sheldon (Stony Brook University, New York, USA).
It has been around two months since I originally posted a blog update about my trip abroad to the USA, and ever since I have been meaning to sit down and update it. The truth is that I haven’t had more than an hour to myself with nothing happening and no work to do since the moment I arrived – just the way I want it to be! It has meant that I haven’t kept up with my blog as much as I had hoped, but without further ado here it is.
Arrival at Stony Brook University
Study abroad exchange students arrived four days earlier than the majority of the full time students, so we had a lot of time to settle in and complete orientation before everybody else arrived and lectures started. The one thing that I was surprised by is that there was no Freshers Week (or Welcome Week as Manchester likes to call it!) – we were left to our own devices to introduce ourselves properly to the campus. This wasn’t a problem at all as I had already made a good group of friends who are also studying abroad here, and luckily I was put in an apartment with two girls from Japan and Australia also studying abroad!
Stony Brook University is set in a bubble-like campus, which is a complete contrast to the University of Manchester which is spread throughout the city center. As much as I miss being able to walk to the shops after lectures and having everything five minutes within my reach, it is a beautiful campus and the surrounding area is absolutely lovely. Walking to lectures through the wooded campus, with the trees now turning a mix of red, oranges and greens, is a pleasant experience in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Oxford Road.
There have been two noticable differences between life in Manchester and life in Stony Brook – the first being during the months of August and September here, every single day was hot and sunny! Walking to lectures in a summer dress under the bright blue sky every day definitely lifts the spirits – the wet and windy Manchester can’t compare! The second big difference is the constant stream of exams that comes with the US education system. As it turns out I have around one exam per week, as the “mid-terms” have turned out to be not so mid term. This may sound a complete nightmare, however it has it’s pros. For instance, for the majority of my subjects the final exam isn’t cumulative. This means that, for example, if a subject has two mid term exams and one final exam, each exam will test you on only 1/3 of the lecture series. This is a huge difference to the UK system where exams are at the end of the semester and test you on everything covered during all the lectures. It may be a life of constant revision, but exams are much less stressful this way.
Soon, I will write a blog entry on the differences between the US and UK education systems – and what I have learnt from experiencing them both!
With regards to travelling and exploring the area that I am living in, it is safe to say that I am certainly making the most of my three day weekends (yes- I have no classes on a Friday!). This month alone I am travelling to Philadelphia, New York City, Montreal, Monroe NY, and have been invited to experience a real American thanksgiving with one of my lovely flat mates!
So far since being at Stony Brook University I have traveled around the majority of Long Island to the furthest point East and back, visited Cape Cod Massachusetts, Boston, Providence Rhode Island, and have had a couple of weekends in New York City itself. Alongside these trips away I have been kayaking and sailing in and around Stony Brook, white water rafting in Pennsylvania, sky diving from 13,500 ft in Calverton, NY, and took a trip over on the ferry to Fire Island. Studying abroad gives you a motive to travel, you certainly catch the travelling bug. I work hard during the week so that on the weekends I am free to explore, and I have made so many great friends here who are as keen to travel as I am.
Below are some pictures from my time here – enjoy!
This is taken in Stony Brook village with some other students studying abroad during the first couple of weeks of being here.
These are a few snaps from my weekends in the city, it is just 1 hr 30 on the train from campus, and the train station is a 10 minute walk away from my accommodation. The city will never loose its charm!
These are a few snaps from my experiences on the water!
These were taken at the homecoming game – the biggest event on the academic calender! Everybody dresses in red, the school colour, and goes along to support the team and the marching band!
That’s all for now, but I will write again soon, I promise!