Olivia Ehrnreich (North Carolina State University, USA)
Reflecting over my year abroad and trying to work out what made it so special, number one would have to be the amazing and total mix of people that were brought together by Alexander Hall. Being surrounded by other students from all over the world who were experiencing the same excitement and anxiety of being away from home made me automatically feel welcome.
Having an American roommate that had already been at State for a year, meant there was someone to answer all my many questions on arrival and later in the year, she invited me to a proper American Thanksgiving at her family home! However, Alexander Hall would not have been as incredible if it was not for their veterans (the students who have lived there over several semesters who have now sussed out the nights to go to, every building on campus and how to do tailgating properly). The tailgates (pre celebrations before a football match) would be set up every other weekend for all the home football matches with drinks, food and games provided without fail – even if it meant getting up at 7 am on a Saturday. I haven’t even mentioned the camping trips to the mountains near Ashville or the beach and lake trips they organised throughout the year, which the whole hall was invited to. I think on the last mountain trip we had a squad of 10 cars driving 4 hours just so we could all enjoy a weekend wandering around waterfalls with all the shenanigans of camping.
With there being multiple events a week, whether someone’s birthday, a concert or even a road trip, I was constantly busy and making the most of my time. However, living in such a busy and lively hall, did mean that I had to have lots of will power to study, especially when I was trying to be convinced that a night out was more important than my end of term project “Because it’s a year abroad!!” Glad to say, I seemed to find more hours in my day, by ditching weekends of Netflix and replacing it with my new hobby of travelling.
Living in an international hall was great for travelling, we were all on a year abroad and with the opportunity of being on another continent, we wanted to do as much travelling as possible. In the two term breaks where I travelled to Chicago and Mexico, both trips attracted a 30 strong army of Alexandrians. Also being in Mexico with two Mexican students and many others that spoke Spanish meant we actually knew what food we were ordering and managed to get discounts to many tourist spots. This gave us the chance to experience snorkelling with turtles, swimming in cenotes and visiting Chichen Itsa, a wonder of the world. As well as this we were enjoying the huge nightlife, living off tacos and guacamole for 10 days and of course we had to sample some tequila. It was the most incredible holiday and something I would have not imagined myself having the chance to do last year.
Meeting and living with international students means that one year on I have friends across the globe and however cheesy it may sound, living in Alexander hall gave me the opportunity to make lasting friendships and memories with people from all around the world. My time abroad would not have been the same without them.