Expectations vs Reality of Studying Abroad

I’m almost done with the last set of homework! Phew. I’ve been occupied with the never ending weekly assignments and semester projects. Back in May when I received my acceptance letter from the University of Maryland and ever since then, I started listing the things I wanted to do throughout my fall semester, but lots of things turn out otherwise. Here are some of them:

Expectation #1:

Not a day will pass without a new adventure, say a visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre (a 15-minute drive from college)


Reality: You are enrolled as a student at your partner university, hence, just like in Manchester, you’re have to attend lectures and do tutorials. Being part of a US education, you’d find yourself drowned in piles of homework your professors would upload and will need you to hand in the following week. To conclude, you would find yourself in the library most of the time on weekdays. But, don’t be frustrated that you would not be able to do the fun things that you came to the country to do, budget your time well, and you’d see yourself on the bus to another city. Also, remember that you don’t have January exams, so there’s more time for you to travel then!


Expectation #2:

Road tripping every weekend to nearby cities, or perhaps famous and fancy places.


Reality: For most of us, it is unlikely that we can afford to travel every weekend like how the media portrays. Renting cars can be slightly expensive (if you’re under 25). Having meals at famous and fancy places would burn a hole in your pocket. Chances are that you would be faithfully end up taking your meal plans while waiting for your next allowance. Besides, your parents in the UK would worry about your safety as US drivers drives on the opposite side of the road.


Expectation #3:

You’d be more than likely to gain a few more pounds


Reality: Here at College Park, there isn’t any bus pass that you could get. Free shuttle service runs every half an hour. This leaves you the only way to reach your classes is by foot. You’ll find yourself walking to classes, home, and various events each day. Thus, it’ll be slightly difficult for you to gain those pounds (provided you maintain a reasonably healthy diet). However, Maryland has one of the best dairies on campus and you’re only on a study abroad opportunity once (unless you decide to go back to school for a second degree). I’d urge you to go get those ice creams as many days a week as you please. (Note: I don’t do this, but I do know a friend or two who grabs a scoop every week!)


Expectation #4:

You’re 3500 miles away from home and you could do whatever you’d like. You’d love your new life so much that you wouldn’t call home.


Reality: If it’s your first time leaving home, you’d find yourself calling back home often. You would realize how much you miss home, the food, and the people!


Expectation #5

The American college experience would be the same as what you seen on your laptop screen in American TV series.


Reality: The scenes you see through your television and laptop screens aren’t the same as what I had experience so far. I’ll not elaborate on this and I leave it for you to experience it yourself. The one advice that I could give is for you to apply and go abroad. Your perspectives of what you have will change.

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