By Pamilla Kang, UCSD, USA
I was going to start this blog by saying: ‘So, it’s been about two weeks since my flight to America…’, but then I realised I’m actually in my sixth week here… and so I can in fact confirm that time really does fly by on your year abroad! Instead, let me start by saying that even though I haven’t been here too long, and that moving abroad is very tough, I’m already so glad that I did it! Literally everything here amazes me – things like looking out the window on the bus home, and seeing about a thousand palm trees or the sun setting over the pacific ocean, makes me can’t quite believe that I live on the west coast of California.
I initially flew to San Diego with my parents, who stayed with me for the first week. I have to say that at times it was slightly annoying to have them here, as I was so ready to get stuck into my year abroad on my own. However, they were really supportive and definitely helped with the stress of moving to a new country. We also stayed in an amazing apartment in Downtown San Diego, which I absolutely loved. Staying there was extra special, as UCSD is based in north San Diego, and so you don’t get many chances to travel south to see the centre.
To all the potential go abroad people out there – I’d definitely recommend having your parents there for the first few days if that would be possible for you guys! It gives an amazing opportunity to stay with them in a part of the city that isn’t your university area. We also did a lot of the San Diego tourist things together, which were so fun. From gorillas that like watching the iPad, to a dog and cheetah that were best friends, we saw some really incredible things. (Bet you’re a bit lost, but that was actually just at San Diego Zoo!)
As for American university life, lectures only started about three weeks ago, and so I’m only just starting to get in touch with student life here, although it’s very easy to see the differences already! With midterms approaching, and the classic exam stress of ‘starting to wonder if you really need your degree anyway’ sets in, I’m sure I’m going to write a whole blog about the academic differences here…
The biggest culture shock though, is being under the legal age of 21. It’s meant that I’ve had to adjust my way of socialising and meeting people quite a lot. Manchester has an amazing nightlife and music scene, and us students use that to socialise and make new friends (especially in first year). However in America, a lot of students can’t yet go out or go to places because of the age restriction. It means that socialising is often revolved around the campus, and events made by the university in the first week or so, which I found pretty weird. People also socialise by using the clubs and societies a lot more than in England. I didn’t expect to be wanting to join the Korean Catholic frisbee club on my year abroad as a way of socialising!
So at the moment, I’m really looking forward to be 21 here, so that I can actually explore the city a lot more. I’ve already done some cool activities though, like kayaking and hiking (and frat parties) – West Coast living is pretty chill.