By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, USA)
This time last year I was trawling through blogs trying to decide if I was going to apply for the Study Abroad Programme. If this is you today… DO IT! A year ago I was sitting in Manchester, searching through the lists of different universities, trying to match up courses and wondering if perhaps it was too much of a challenge, and that was just the application let alone the move! Now I’m sitting on Long Island, packing for a trip to Canada, with New York my closest major city… This blog focuses more on the studying, which is the biggest aspect of my time on campus, so choose somewhere with courses that appeal to you, not just for the reputation or location. I am hugely lucky that I get all 3! The time is flying by and choosing SBU is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
When I arrived in America I wasn’t sure how the teaching between Manchester and SBU would match up. However, 7 weeks in, I’m starting to feel like the similarities may be fewer than the differences.
Unlike at Manchester, there is no break between classes and exams to consolidate your knowledge. I’ve just finished my first round of midterms and, although there is less content, the techniques and study skills required here are very different. There’s always room for improvement and I’m still learning, so hopefully this will reflect in my scores next time.
In the first week I had wondered why the American students in my classes gave me slightly odd looks when I listed off the classes I was taking. Turns out no one takes four third year Biology classes without risking social suicide. The credit system here is set up so that as well as taking classes from your major, you also have to take electives, which will be first or second year courses. However, the professors are amazing and the content is challenging but interesting and the library has quickly become my refuge!
Unlike Manchester, the lectures here start at 8.30am, which has been fine on sunny days, but I’m dreading when winter sets in. The lectures also all run for an hour and a half, something I am still getting used to. It’s great because the content is taught thoroughly in large blocks, but it’s also a challenge to stay focused for such a long time period and I find myself needing to review the last 15 minutes more thoroughly than the first after the lectures!
It hasn’t been ‘all work, no play’ though. Since I last wrote, the Uni organised a trip to a Yankees baseball game, with the Yankess beating the Toronto Blue Jays by 5 runs to 3. Hearing the whole stadium sing ‘New York, New York’ at the end is something I will never forget.
We also had our homecoming game (Varsity but on another level) which was incredible. I spent it with American classmates and got the ‘true’ experience. The loyalty to the Seawolves was evident all over the parking lots and the atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. Unfortunately, we lost the game in the last minute and a half, but it was still a day I will never forget.
I’ve also seen friends from home, been to a Broadway show and seen the city from the ‘Top of the Rock,’ so I am certainly making the most of my free time. This weekend a group of international students are making a trip to Toronto to see Niagara Falls and my mum is coming to visit the weekend after, so there’s a lot to look forward to. With time is flying by, we’re already planning ahead to the end of November!
Study abroad has already provided me with many challenges and amazing memories, I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring!