By Madeleine Taylor (University of Maryland, USA)
The prospect of flying nine hours across ‘the pond’ for eight months is pretty daunting. There will be so much to adjust to and appreciate, and so little time to do so. Not seeing my family for that long is going to be difficult, but I am excited to strike out on my own and throw myself into life at the University of Maryland. After all, my well known motto is: You are a strong, independent woman. And I plan to fully realise this alter-ego on my trip (we’ll see how that goes).
Packing was a struggle; how could I possibly fit eight months worth of stuff into two measly (when I say measly I mean behemoth duffle bags, but still) suitcases? Well I tried and I failed. Unfortunately I had to resign myself to the fact that I could not bring thirty books and a dozen nicnacks and my two dogs. Oh the struggle.
Once my packing was finished the real nerves set in. This was actually happening. I would be out of touch with Manchester life for over half a year and eventually something completely new would be my norm. I am, however, very lucky to have an amazing family living only four hours (a very short distance by American standards) from the University of Maryland, who will no doubt treat me too well and help me get settled. So shout out to my amazing family!
I have been assigned a roommate, which I am very apprehensive about, but hopefully everything will work out, and I know my move-in date. I’ve filled out all of my paperwork, checked my passport is in date and contacted my advisor in Maryland. I think everything is covered, and now all there is left to do is vegetate for nine hours whilst watching terrible movies and eating questionable food (yes, this is how I see flying) before my adventure begins. Wish me luck!
So I have been in the USA now for just over a week and I am stressed! I’ve sorted out a bank account and my mobile phone. I’ve studied for and taken my Virginia driving test (I passed, yay!), and re-registered my cousin’s car in my name (which I bought from her – thanks Ariel for the sweet ride!).
I’ve registered for classes and bought a parking space at Maryland. I’ve checked and rechecked my train tickets from Virginia Beach (where I am staying with my family) to Maryland and checked the weather schedules. Lets halt there at the last one – there has been a polar vortex this past week, with temperatures in the US dropping to record lows. So I’ve had to constantly check the weather schedules. Fingers crossed for a week clear of snow!
And lo and behold, on move-in day a blizzard comes to town and the school is closed. Thankfully I was staying with my Mum’s best friend Kate in Maryland at the time, so didn’t have to worry about extending a hotel stay. We also had an awesome day shovelling snow, drinking hot chocolate and making homemade pizzas, so I’m not really complaining.
I am equally nervous and excited for move in, but can’t wait to officially start my semester abroad!