This week marks a full year since I flew out to America to start my study abroad experience and I can’t believe how quickly it has all gone. I’ve now been back in the UK for much longer than my total time out in the states which puts into perspective just how short an experience it all was. Having said that, I managed to fit in so much during the semester and have a lot of memories (and pictures) to take away from it.
Over the course of the past semester back in Manchester I have been a mentor to two study abroad students, one from Germany and one from America. This has been great as I’ve been able to give them advice from the perspective of someone who knows Manchester as well as someone who has studied abroad and knows what it’s like to be adapting to a new country and different education system. It’s been really interesting to see what aspects of the city, many of which I’ve grown very used to, are interesting to people from elsewhere. (Apparently we’re very lucky to have the magic buses but not so luck with the weather.)
If I were to start these past twelve months over again there isn’t a lot I’d do differently. I feel I managed to make the most of my time in New York by travelling, making lots of new friends and getting involved in a sports team whilst I was over there without it all affecting my work too much. Being so far away from friends and family, missing out on the Manchester social scene, being a while away from the nearest big city and generally adjusting to life in a new place were all difficult but the positives far outweighed any negatives. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the study abroad experience is something I recommend very highly to anyone considering it and Stony Brook in particular would be a great choice. If you’re reading through blogs at the minute deciding whether or not to apply, do it! It’s the sort of experience you won’t be able to replicate through travel or work later in life. If anything, I wish I could have stayed out there for longer. A full academic year, rather than just the first semester would have allowed me to spread out some of the travelling I did and take advantage of a break or two in my adopted country. Squeezing it all into one semester was exciting but very tiring at times, especially whilst trying to keep on top of essays, midterms etc. (most of the exchange students from other countries were on a pass/fail system or didn’t have exams at all).
I have kept in touch with some of my friends back in America as well as a lot of the other exchange students around the world and recently managed to meet up with a couple of them in London. I’m hoping to see some others in the near future either here or somewhere else in Europe and who knows, one day I might return to Stony Brook.