By Rhiannon Jones (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
I suppose that the self-reflection blog usually comes at the end of the year long exchange, not as the first blog, but I feel like I’ve already learnt a lot about myself. Turns out I am actually quite unorganised and left an embarrassing amount of preparation for my study abroad until the last week. It’s been easy to put it off; I’ve had a full time job all summer meaning (in my head at least) I had an excuse to leave things like my immunization records until next week and the next until suddenly the day before I flew out I was collecting letters from my GP. I somehow managed to just about get everything done, which turned out actually to be a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.
I arrived in Urbana-Champaign last night! The jet lag means time is pretty arbitrary at the moment, but it meant I got this picture at 6am while no one else was around. I’m still like a small child exploring a new country where everything is slightly different to back home and so automatically exciting; the road signs, the weather (a casual 33°C), the intense air conditioning, the accent and even the over-friendliness. I know it will wear off pretty quickly once lectures start, so I’ve promised myself I’ll enjoy this week of freedom.
There’s three chemistry students going to University of Illinois this year, so it’s so nice to be able to have a chat and reassures myself I’m not the only one who is lost/scared/ecstatic/tired all at the same time. Just like Elizabeth (she’s also a Global Ambassador too! https://goo.gl/XZICTX) I’m also in ‘temporary housing’ until they find me something more permanent. As you can imagine I was obviously upset and disappointed. I’ve found myself in their common room area that’s been fitted for four people to live in for a few days. It comprises of two bunk beds, military-style metal wardrobes and, as far as I can tell, no plug sockets.
With the last few days being a bit of a panicked blur I have no idea what to expect during my time in the US. I’ve promised myself I’m going to watch an American football match, if only to make my friends back home jealous but apart from that I just plan to say yes to everything within reason and see what happens.
P.S. I wrote this and then went to lunch. We had chipotle. 10/10 can recommend, definitely better than at home.