It’s nearly the end of August, and I’ve been back in the UK for about three months now. Although I feel like I’ve adjusted back to life here pretty well, there are still mornings when I’ll wake up, and realise that I’m no longer sharing a room with my roommate. The past few weeks have been quite hard, as the university term has just started at Mizzou, so my Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are filled with photos of the campus, and of nights out in Columbia’s bars and clubs posted by all the friends I made there. As much as I love being back in England, with all the little home comforts I missed so much, I do wish that I could be back there, going through it all again!
It’s quite comforting though, to know that this year’s cohort of exchange students from Manchester who are in Missouri will have such an amazing time. Additionally, whilst I was out there, my fellow Global Ambassador Maddie and I met up with three girls who are coming to Manchester in September, and we are both looking forward to helping them settle into life at Manchester! It’ll also be interesting to see how they make the transition from life in the US to life in the UK…
In my last post, I had just returned from Miami on Spring Break, but before I knew it, it was the start of May, and I had exams looming. Exams work in a different over there than they do in Manchester – exams can start at 7:30am and finish at 9pm at night! I was scheduled to have 2 exams which started at 7:30am, but fortunately one of my teachers took pity on us and rearranged it to a more socially acceptable time! I feel like teachers in the US have a lot more freedom over the courses they teach than they do in Manchester – you know that a lecturer at Manchester would be pretty powerless to rearrange an exam just like that! Additionally, the last Friday before exams week is known as “Stop Day”, and is when all classes stop and people go out and have fun. There was a mini-festival on campus with loads of local businesses giving away free food and tattoos, and JOJO (!!), off of “GET OUT, LEAVE! RIGHT NOW!” fame performed for us! We were all so excited, quote possibly one of the best things which has ever happened to me!
Fortunately I passed all of my exams, but this meant that I had to make a start on packing up the room which I called home for 5 months. 5 months may not seem a long time, but when you’re 4000 miles away from home, it seems like an eternity. Saying that, my time in Missouri flew by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday when I first arrived in Columbia and was eating Shakespeare’s Pizza with everyone and wondering how I’d ever make friends! I was incredibly lucky to have spent my time there with some really good friends, who supported me through my bad times, and who were also been there to enjoy the many fun times we had. On our last night in Columbia, all of us exchange students from the UK and Spain went out to a local bar, and it was such an odd feeling knowing that the next time we would all be together would be on British soil.
Of course, I couldn’t leave the USA without doing some more travelling first, and I took two weeks to travel to New Orleans, LA, San Francisco and New York. I stayed in hostels for the first time, and met so many wonderful people, who shared my love of travelling and culture. I fell totally in love with California, and realise now why so many celebrities live there! There were ‘good vibes’ everywhere, all the time, and one of my friends from the UK was in LA at the same time as me, so it was lovely to see someone from home again! On the day that I met him, I went to Venice Beach by myself in the afternoon, and sat on the beach, looking at the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean and spent some time thinking about how far I’ve come, both geographically and personally. I thought about the person I was when I was at high school, who was so shy that I couldn’t put my hand up in class to answer a question without having a panic attack. Fast-forward 5 years later, and I’m 5,000 miles away from home, meeting lovely new people all the time and making friends with them. I’ve gone from being terrified to answer a question about algebra to openly admitting to hoards of curious Americans that no, I don’t know the Queen, and no, I’ve never drank a cup of tea. Everyone says that university shapes who you are as a person, but I don’t think many people realise it until 5-10 years after they’ve graduated. However, I think people who take advantage of all the opportunities available to you as a student, such as studying and working and volunteering abroad, really notice the difference as soon as it happens.
But of course, all good things must come to an end, and before I knew it, I was at Manchester Airport on a cold drizzly Thursday in June, listening to my mum updating me on six months of “thrilling local gossip” which I had missed out on, during the car journey back home. (n.b: to my mum, thrilling gossip revolves around the fact that a road near our street had been resurfaced, and that she bought some cat food from Tesco for cheaper that the price label says. She was very pleased with herself…)
I was so so happy to see my cat again, and it was lovely having her there curled up next to me in bed whilst I attempted to combat my jetlag. (Why did no one tell me how bad US->UK jetlag is??!) Fortunately, I overcame my jetlag just in time to start my summer job, interning with the Orientation Team at university! In this role, I help to organise Orientation and Welcome Week for all the new international students who will be arriving in Manchester in September, and I think that having this internship has helped me with the ‘post-study-abroad’ readjustment process. It’s so rewarding being able to empathise with these students, and to use my experiences of studying abroad to offer support and guidance to ensure that they enjoy their time in Manchester as much as enjoyed my time abroad, whether they are only here for a semester, or for 5 years to complete a PhD. I am also required to keep a blog as part of this internship, so I’m able to use and improve upon the blogging skills I’ve developed as my time as a Global Ambassador on this webpage!
It’s now almost September, and I am looking forward to starting university again, even though I will be in my final year and will have to contend with the pressures of writing a dissertation and applying for graduate jobs! 😦 I’m excited to see how I adapt to British academic life again, and to see what things, if any, have changed.