By Aye-Oritse Ikomi (The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)
So it’s been a whole year since I posted my first blog and my year abroad is over! It’s so sad to think that this experience has ended, but it definitely ended on a high!
Leaving Illinois was pretty heartbreaking, especially as I was one of the first to go, but exams and essays made me pretty happy the semester (if not the study abroad experience) was over! The last few weeks were a frenzy of fitting in everything that I had intended to do over the year (and not got round to); they were definitely my busiest and best weeks of the whole year! I will never forget the friends I made this year – all my Illinois locals were incredible and I cannot wait to go back and visit all the people I met! Hopefully sometime during the next year whilst they’re all still around at U of I!
I left Illinois for Texas to visit some of my family, then from Houston flew to San Diego to meet some Manchester friends for our American Road Trip!! The thing that strikes me the most about America is how different every state is to one another: California was like a completely different country to Illinois! It was NOT as hot as we expected! Take a jumper!! But the views are gorgeous and we did get a few really hot weeks! Especially Vegas – 40 degrees!
We rented a car in San Diego and planned our trip up the coast to end in Vancouver stopping in: Newport, LA (twice), Vegas, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle! We hosteled, moteled, couch surfed and camped our way up the West Coast and ended staying in a friend’s house in Vancouver (definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been).
This was by far the most disastrous but most fun trips I’ve ever taken! We ran into so many difficulties (like running out of petrol in the middle of the Arizona desert on the way back from the Grand Canyon) and staying in some terrifying motels (I wouldn’t recommend them), but everything ended okay and we were practically hysterically laughing for the whole four weeks!
I’ve been thinking about the year and have a list of highlights:
- NEW ORLEANS! GO! It’s the best place in the U.S!
- The Grand Canyon, which was breathtaking!
- Seattle – such a young dynamic city!
- Vancouver – home to the most beautiful hikes and amazingly cheap sushi!
- Spring Break in Florida – like nothing I’ve ever experienced before
- Thanksgiving! We need this holiday in England
- St Patrick’s Day!
So I ended my year abroad a year older, with a whole bunch of school spirit and having visited 17 states! I will definitely be back in the U.S. to see the other 33!! Here are some photos from the road trip!!