Everyone tells you that you study abroad will be the best time of your life. Looking back on the last nine months I can honestly say that I have had the most wonderful experience, making lifelong friends and amazing memories making me so grateful that I was given this opportunity. However I do think that it is important to share that there are highs and lows to studying abroad and that it is unreasonable to be 100% happy all the time and give some suggestions of the things that I have found helpful whilst I have been away.
I have previously written about the academic differences between Mizzou and Manchester but I didn’t really make it clear how difficult that was. At the beginning I found it frustrating as I was so used to the way things are done at Manchester and I struggled to be able to write shorter papers that included all of my points as well as doubting myself in multiple choice questions and getting lower grades that I felt did not reflect my capabilities or how hard I had worked. If you grades are being transferred back to Manchester this is something important that you should think about because it took me awhile to get used to it. It really helped me to speak to my professors and TA’s who are super open and helpful and I really do advise you to take advantage of every extra credit opportunity you get as I managed to turn by B+ into an A- because of extra credit.(Me with some of the other Study Abroad Students)
It can be hard being away from home sometimes, I have definitely felt home sick a on a couple of occasions. For me surrounding myself a good group of friends made me feel less homesick. The other international exchange students are going through the same thing as you so chances are will feel homesick too. I have also been incredible lucky that I was able to join my sorority. I have made some of my best friends through it and they have become my surrogate family. I was able to go to one friend’s home in a small town in southwest Missouri for Thanksgiving and I spent Easter with my roommates family in Jefferson City. It made the holidays less difficult and was also a great way for me to see more of Missouri and see just how small small towns are!
(On our cruise to Mexico for Spring Break)
Although I love Columbia and it is a perfect college town, I sometimes struggled with is just how small it is. Without a car, I sometimes felt stuck in Columbia, which is why planning little road trips or outings was so much fun. Whether it was going hiking at the beautiful Pinnacles, driving to The Big Tree (literally just a big tree in the middle of a field!) or a day trip to Kansas City being able to explore more than just downtown allowed me to see more of Missouri than just Mizzou’s campus. I also did some longer trips, going to Memphis and New Orleans, Driving through Kansas to go to Colorado, a weekend in Chicago and going on a Cruise to Mexico for Spring Break. These little trips, not only allowed me to see more of America and were some of the highlights of my study abroad experience but also gave me something to look forward too when I was feeling homesick.
(Me at the Pinnacles)
These past few months have truly been incredible and I honestly think that I have grown as a person, academically and in confidence through all of the experiences that I have had. The difficult times have only made the me appreciate the easy times more and I would without a doubt recommend studying abroad to everyone!