By Lucas Smith (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA)
So I have touched down in Massachusetts, got settled and started classes. On one hand, it seems to have all happened so fast. However, it does seem a long time ago since I last sat down to write a blog piece just before my departure. The first two weeks here have been amazing. As to be expected, the first few days were a shock, and this probably was not helped by the continuous travel from Manchester to Amsterdam, then Boston and finally Amherst, all in the same day. However, in the following days I got out and about the campus. The campus here is really breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the standout features are the Du Bois Library which offers amazing views of the surrounding area and incorporation of nature with man-made structures all over campus.
The weather so far has been hot and humid, which was difficult to adjust to at first, but a group of us made the most of it by making the trip to the nearby Puffers Pond for one relaxed afternoon. The International Programmes Office here, as well as being extremely welcoming, put on a number of trips for the incoming students in the first week such as a short hiking trip up Mount Sugar Loaf which offered scenic views over the valley. Despite all the leisure activities I have now started classes, and if I am being truthful the work load has come as quite a surprise. I had been forewarned about the amount of reading and now I am working to get into a routine that it seems many US students abide by. This involves completing work and readings during the work day in order to be able to make the most of the weekends. Despite the work load all my classes are interesting and the more open discussion style of teaching I am enjoying thus far. In the following few days and weeks I hope to join societies such as the ski club here and meet many new people. All in all it has been an incredible start and my only worry is the speed at which time seems to be travelling! I hope you enjoy reading and stay tuned as I document my adventures this year!