I noticed that I have the habit to compare new places with the place I am familiar with. This includes Manchester where I have been living for 3 years.
Maryland is so strikingly different from Manchester.
The roads, especially the highways are super huge. There is no way you can jaywalk and arrive safely on the other side. There are so many cars here because everything is so spread out that it’s difficult to get anywhere in the US unless you have a car. Well, fortunately, Washington is one of the rare place in the US to have extensive public transport and Maryland is just beside it. We have a metro station on campus connected on Washington and that’s one of the major advantage of studying in Maryland, the ease of travelling without a car. There is a free bus shuttle on campus too, even though I haven’t figured out the system yet. The buses also do not run as often compared to Manchester especially Oxford Road – I start to miss Manchester bus and Oxford Road corridor!
In terms of weather, I have a very good trade with Manchester – we get our daily dose of sunshine without fail since my first day. Every single day since I arrived here has been sunny and amazing around 30C. However, it also means that we get very sweaty and sticky at the end of the day. Some people couldn’t cope and collapse, like what happened just now as I’m writing this.
Everything is soooooo huge and sooooo spread out. If you imagine Tescos or Sainsburys in the middle of Manchester, stores of those size are non existent in Maryland. Normal store size is still larger than Asda in Hulme. I’m planning to dedicate one post just for shopping so keep an eye for it!
Buildings are also very spread out. If everything in Manchester looks very ‘squashed together’ (as I call it), I feel that buildings in America are running away from me as I’m walking towards them. After being surrounded by so many buildings in Manchester, it feels very weird for my first few days here to see that there are very large open spaces everywhere.
In the middle of those differences, similarities still do exist:
Both countries speak English. I did need a few hours to configure my brain to the American accent and try to make sense some of the differences in vocabulary, but that’s it. I would say that having the same language eases the adaptation to new place pretty significantly.
The diversity of people
When I first arrived in JFK airport in New York, I was quite disappointed because I couldn’t see the difference between Manchester and USA. Of course, that’s because I had transit in the airport and couldn’t go out to the city. I would say that from a glance, the diversity is similar – both place welcomes people from all parts of the world.
Classes haven’t started yet, so I cannot talk about academic life yet. This whole article is based only on my first week in Maryland, and definitely there is more to it – I’ll cover those in upcoming posts 🙂