Olivia Ehrnreich (North Carolina State University, USA)
I’ve been back in Manchester for several months now. I have to admit, on the first drive down Oxford Road and past Fallowfield, it felt strange being back. Also, being a fourth year made me feel a hundred times older. However, I was lucky enough that a lot of people I knew had also been on exchange or in industry so were still around Manchester and probably feeling as ancient as me. This only lasted for a couple of days though, once I’d caught the magic bus, revisited Piccadilly gardens, started lectures and met up with friends I hadn’t seen in a year, everything seemed to go back to normal and I fell straight back in to life at Manchester. I am lucky enough that I have stayed in touch with four other girls from Manchester, who I had been at NC State with and grown close to, which made returning less difficult as I hadn’t had to say goodbye to everyone. It also enabled us to natter away about our year abroad and all the people and things we’d missed without annoying everyone with “this one time on my year abroad…” I was determined to sign up for at least one society or class this year. After everything I had done at NC State, I felt like I should be able to find time for at least one hobby… five months in and I’m still hopeful I’ll find one.
Even though I took all chemistry classes whilst in the USA, I still dread the words ‘as you learnt last year’ in my lectures at Manchester. Of course, being away meant that I was studying a different syllabus which has left some gaps in the topics covered at Manchester. However, at the moment I can happily say the difference doesn’t seem too great and the experience was definitely worth it. I miss all the fun travel plans I had whilst abroad, my workload for my final year has definitely increased and it now appears my money is going towards Morrisons meal deals rather than travelling. Having done and seen so much on my time abroad, I still felt like I needed to do more with my time. This has resulted in me making a bucket list of things I need to do in my final year including going to specific cafes, galleries, events and exploring the city. I am determined to have seen and done everything by the time I graduate even if it means cramming it all into the last few weeks of the semester.
Although I miss everyone from my year abroad and pictures on Facebook showing me what I was doing this time last year, make me wish I could do it all over again, I have to say, it makes me so grateful for the amazing time I had studying abroad, which allowed me to make the most of my uni experience before buckling down to the never ending work of my final year. As this is my final blog I want to say, as someone who was unsure of committing to a whole year of living abroad… do it! It truly is a life changing experience and will stay with you forever. Go Wolfpack!