By Joe Vis (Stony Brook, The State University of New York, USA)
I can’t believe I’m writing this already, but I am now at the end of my first week of lectures back in Manchester. I always knew that four months was going to be a relatively short time to spend in New York, but it flew by even quicker than I expected. Upon leaving I had mixed feelings, obviously heading home for Christmas with the family and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen since the summer was a great prospect, but leaving so soon was tough. I’d quickly gotten used to the way everything worked in Stony Brook, in what is basically its own little community. For all the foreign exchange students, living together, travelling together and generally experiencing life in the US for the first time had meant a lot of strong friendships were formed despite the short time we spent together. Saying goodbye to everyone felt strange, especially given we were all heading home to different countries, and for people like the Aussies and Kiwis, there is little prospect of seeing them again any time soon. Luckily, we were able to get a couple of big social events organised for everyone before we left. There were various promises of reunions in the near future and it will be great if we can make this happen.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Meeting new people and making new friends from all over the world was great fun and now means I’ve got free accommodation in about fifteen different countries if I go to visit. I had the chance to see places I never would have been able to otherwise and I now know New York better than most Americans.
On the other hand, it is nice to be back in Manchester. As great as the Stony Brook campus was, it was in the middle of nowhere with few shops within walking distance and bars that half our group weren’t allowed in due to the 21 age limit on drinking. Having everything I need on my doorstep is a welcome relief, and I never realised just how much I’d missed the Magic buses. I can also easily nip home for the weekend, which obviously wasn’t an option from the other side of the Atlantic.
I had not had to revise over Christmas, having done all my exams before I left, so it was a bit of a shock to the system this week with essays and a dissertation all looming ahead over the coming weeks. I’m living with a group of other second years who I hadn’t actually met before moving in. At one of the pre-departure socials in Manchester I did a deal with a guy who is doing his study abroad this semester and so needed someone to take over his room. This worked well as it meant I wasn’t worrying about accommodation while I was away. I’ve managed to settle in quickly and get on well with everyone in the house. I think this is definitely a good way of doing things for anyone going abroad in first semester next year.
As of next week, I will be a mentor to two students undertaking a study abroad programme here in Manchester. It will be exciting to meet people just at the start of their experience and I hope I can help them to have as much fun as I did with mine.