It’s been a month since I arrived at the University of Maryland, College Park and I know it sounds cliche but it feels like I have been here for my whole degree. I have learned that when you are forced to make friends in such a short space of time when you are away from all your friends and family, they really do become your family. I knew before I came to Maryland that I wanted to travel and that is exactly what I have been doing, in fact, since I arrived on campus I have only spent one weekend actually in Maryland. So far I have visited Washington DC, The Jersey Shore, New York City, Manchester (New Hampshire), Philadelphia and next weekend I am heading to Vermont. Maryland is definitely in an ideal location for travelling (but I will talk about that more in my next blog).
As I mentioned I have made some great friends so far, however, not many of them are American. Obviously, coming on exchange to the states you would think that I would be surrounded by American people, which I obviously am, but it has definitely been a huge culture shock for me. While people assume that the states and the the UK are so similar the Americans here in Maryland are extremely different to my friends from home and the culture I am used to. The biggest difference is definitely the humour. I am pretty sarcastic and in the UK when you are good friends with someone you can laugh at them and yourself in a jokey manner, so far I have realised Americans find this a little more difficult. So all of my friends are other international students (pictured above). My closest friends are from Australia, Germany, Austria, Singapore and England and this has lots of positive features attached to it, especially with regards to travelling, as international students are definitely more keen to travel than people who have lived in the states their whole life, which is why I have been able to go on so many spontaneous trips.
My accommodation here in Maryland is pretty standard, the outside of the building is beautiful and before I arrived I assumed from the outside that the inside would be just as nice, in reality it is not much better than Fallowfield. My first night on campus in my new bedroom was definitely the worst night here as there was no air conditioning. I looked at the thermometer on my phone and it was 29 degrees at one point. However, the next day I went out and bought a fan and it has been all up hill since then. I am in an apartment with six girls (2 from Spain, 1 from South Korea, 1 from Singapore, 1 from Dubai and me), and I LOVE IT. So far there have been no arguments and even though we are from all over the world we are all so similar and have so much in common. My roommate is the girl from Dubai, and she has made the roommate experience extremely enjoyable. I was pretty nervous before I arrived with regards to the whole roommate situation but she is so easy to be around and to share my space with. Also she is a Muslim, so it has been so interesting speaking to her about her faith, watching her pray and celebrating Eid with her. I wouldn’t change anything about my housemates and my living situation, UMD definitely did a good job in allocating us all together.
(My halls of residence).
Finally, my first impression with regards to studying is that America is very very different to the UK. I will dedicate a whole blog to this in the future, but just briefly in general America is a lot easier than the UK. While there is a lot more reading that must be done by a certain date and tones of pop quizzes, assignments and participation required. In general, the content and the standard is much simpler than in Manchester. This has meant that I am able to complete my work including essays much faster than in the UK allowing me to have my weekends free to explore the states.
So far, I love it here in Maryland and I’m not missing Manchester just yet but I will see how I feel after all my midterm exams.