By Olivia Ehrnreich, North Carolina State University
After arriving in North Carolina just over three weeks ago, I cannot believe how much I have done already in such a short time here. Driving on to NC State campus (on a bright sunny day-already way different from Manchester), I thought I’d never be able to find my way around, it is absolutely massive with a mix of uni buildings, accommodation as well as several football fields, tennis and beach volleyball courts and even hammocks, for those not so exercise orientated.
I could not be happier with my decision to live in Alexander Hall, following the advice of previous students, everyone was unbelievably chatty and my first week, which initially only contained orientation talks and scavenger hunts was filled with activities organised by the American students from my halls. For the first two days, eighty of us all went to dinner together on the main high street and at the weekend we were all driven to Lake Johnson, where we typically made the most of the opportunity to sunbathe and were shocked that the water was actually warm, not British coast warm, actually a comfortable temperature. A massive trip to Target was also organised during the first week to get all the ‘essential’ items we needed for the rest of the year. This resulted in the coach back being engulfed in shopping bags, duvets and pillows which wasn’t too bad until I had to carry it all to my room on the third floor!
There were so many student activities and events organised such as Packapalooza which was practically a street party, with food, clubs and societies the uni has to offer. This is where I realised the university American football team were more like celebrities than students, there was a forty minute queue (so should I say line) of students waiting excitedly for ten seconds for one on one time with the football team, to receive a signed poster. In the evening, there were performances from several artists, the final act being a rapper called Nappy Roots, which honestly was not the kind of music I was expecting in North Carolina. There was also an event called Rec Fest which had local student organisations and sports clubs as well as massive inflatable challenges set up in the sports field that looked like something out of the game show 50/50 – nothing is ever done on a small scale. The same is to be said for the huge university spirit, my first encounter of which was when visiting the NCSU student shop which would better be described as a mini department store. They had every item you could possibly imagine rocking the NCSU logo and I’m not exaggerating when I say everything. They had items from T-shirts and notebooks to hammers, high heels and a BBQ set. They even had brands such as Nike, Ralph Lauren and Adidas producing clothes with the NC State logo on, my plan is to own at least a quarter of the items before I go home next year.
First American Football Game
The huge university spirit could not have been more prominent then at my first football game, every single student was dressed in the university colours of red and black yelling “Go Wolfpack!” Before the football game there was an event called “tailgating” outside the stadium, where all the students turn up 3 hours early to have a massive BBQ (which they call a cookout here) and some drinks. At least half the uni students were there and in our group alone, from Alexander Hall, there were over a hundred people. We went into the stadium chanting and ready for our first game… it may have been more helpful if we knew the rules… and the direction we were scoring in, but we soon got the hang of it/ yelled chants when everyone else did, the main one being “move the chains, move the chains, move, move, move” if you know what that means in American football. At the start of the game there is a massive show with jets flying over the stadium, fire cannons, the band, flag girls as well as the dance and cheerleading teams (I repeat, nothing is done on a small scale)
Oh, and by the way, did I mention I was here to study! Seeing as this is a STUDY abroad program, I’ve been placed in graduate classes here with much smaller groups of about 20-30 students in a class. Thankfully, I’ve only been asked to stand up and introduce myself to the class once… and hopefully never again. I have exams coming up in a couple of weeks, as exams are held over the duration of the term rather than after the holidays, making the holidays fun time and not revision time. However, this does mean that the work load is larger, so far I have been given work after almost every class with a deadline for submission only a couple of days to a week after it was assigned. This seems like a lot but it has meant that I have kept up with everything I have learnt in class and makes revising for the exams easier.
Even with the lager work load, which has been completely manageable so far, I have had the best time here and done so much that it actually feels like I’ve been here for a few months rather than just a few short weeks. I already have so much organised for the next couple of weeks as well as a trip to Chicago booked for fall break, who knows what I will have done by the end of my term here. Looking forward to keeping you updated on all my adventures, hopefully the next 3 months will be as good as my first 3 weeks.