Pre-departure reflections (getting ready for American football, cheerleading and Chipotle)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So it’s less than a week before I set off to the USA for my year abroad and I’m currently sat printing out every single email I have ever received from my partner university (as per my mum’s instructions) and trying to sum up my feelings about going.

At the minute I’m not feeling particularly nervous but I think that’s mainly because it just feels like I’m going on a normal holiday (plus an extra suitcase). I’ve been to America before and I’ve on holiday by myself before so the whole process of actually getting there doesn’t seem too daunting. However, I know once I do get there and have to start doing “normal” things like going to lectures and going to the supermarket it’ll really hit me that I’m now actually living in a foreign country.

As for the university itself, moving to a small college town is definitely going to be a bit of culture shock and I can’t say that I won’t miss Manchester (I’ll admit I got a little jealous when all of my friends started attending Warehouse Project events on Facebook last month) but Chicago is close enough that I should be able to make a few trips over the year and the whole point of studying abroad is to experience something totally different, after all.

I’m definitely excited for the weather there (30 degrees and sunny next week), especially after the washout that this British summer has been! But I have been warned that Illinois is a state of extremes and trying to pack for blazing hot summers and minus temperature winters on a 23kg weight allowance is proving tough.

My excitement for going to UIUC was slightly lessened last week when I found out that I’d been placed in temporary housing rather than actual halls of residence at the university because I’d applied after the deadline. This means that I’ll be staying in a makeshift dorm in a residence hall for at least a week until classes start and the university can see who hasn’t shown up/who drops out early on. As if the process of moving to a completely different country and a brand new university wasn’t stressful enough, finding out that I don’t even have a permanent place to live yet really put a downer on things.

But I’m trying to look on the bright side and view it as a way of getting to meet EVEN MORE new people! And it turns out that my three (yes, three) roommates are all international students too so at least we’re all in the same boat.

I’ll be posting another blog (hopefully about how temporary housing is actually the best thing to ever happen to me) once I get there and get settled in, so watch this space!

Elizabeth Pace

P.S. apologies for the lack of photos in this post but I don’t really have anything interesting to show at the minute (my printer? an empty suitcase?) but I promise to make up for it in future posts!

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