By Madeleine Taylor (University of Maryland, College Park, USA)
I honestly cannot believe that it has been almost a year since I left Maryland and College Park. My time studying abroad sometimes feels like it was all a dream, and when it doesn’t it certainly feels a lot more fleeting than it actually was. When I think about it in relation to my whole three years at Manchester, the six months I spent abroad seem like a minuscule slice of time. But somehow those six months have managed to represent some of the most prominent and enjoyable of my time at university.
At first settling back into Manchester was a little difficult, not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of simple things like remembering the bus numbers I could use (which was especially challenging as a new route had been added to the Magic Buses, which I soon found out the hard way). But after a few weeks everything returned to normal, which kind of scared me. With each passing day my experience abroad and the things it has impressed upon me seemed to be fading as Manchester became normal and familiar again. But of course nothing had faded, it had just fallen into the background as I returned to a previous norm. I find myself impacted by my experiences abroad almost every day whether that is chatting with my long-distance friends or having a different perspective on US news. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to play into the cliché of ‘it has fundamentally altered my world and changed me as a person’, but my time abroad has definitely had a positive impact on my everyday life and aspects of myself. For example, before I went abroad I was quite shy and not very confident within myself. While these two traits didn’t disappear completely, whilst abroad I definitely learnt to overcome some of the barriers of my shyness and am a much better person for it.
And now here I am, mere weeks away from graduating for good (gulp) and I couldn’t be more delighted about the choice I made to study abroad. I’ll be seeing my old roommate this summer (I am so excited), and two of my classmates are coming to visit so that I can return the favour and take them on a European adventure.
All the best to anyone embarking on study abroad in the future,