Lottie Harold – Geography – University of California, Los Angeles – United States
Well, it’s time for the blog I couldn’t even imagine writing when I started applying for the Go Abroad process TWO YEARS ago! As a Global Ambassador, I have been helping out at UoM’s Go Abroad fair, as well as information sessions for prospective students, and it’s great to see everyone so excited about applying and going on their year abroad! I remember sitting there, desperately wanting to get into California but trying to be realistic and telling myself it probably wouldn’t happen! Don’t be put off, APPLY!!!
I’m now in the 4th year of my Geography degree and I struggled quite a bit when returning home. Firstly, summer was quite an anti-climax: after having spent a year having the time of my life in LA, I’d come back to rainy Manchester, sitting in all day whilst my boyfriend worked full time, and none of my friends were in town. My advice: definitely have some plans lined up for summer to stop you going mad when you come back home!!
Secondly, once summer ended, I struggled with returning back to UoM. On the Geography programme, you add an extra year when you go abroad, so all my friends who I’d done first and second year with had already graduated. Thankfully, I have lots of friends still in my societies but I still feel pretty lonely in class. I also had to get used to the UoM academic system. At UCLA I’d been used to very short 10 week terms, which included homeworks, midterms, and finals, so each assignment/exam was only worth about 20% of the module. It also made time-keeping easier as I just did each homework one at a time and handed them in at the end of the week. At UoM I’m given 3 long essays, worth about 40% of my modules, and have 8 weeks to complete them, whilst trying to put together a dissertation! I find the lack of weekly structure a bit overwhelming, I think I’m much more suited for the USA’s short, constant assessments.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! I’m settling back into the system now, in fact I’ve almost finished the first half of my final year!! It has been lovely to reconnect with friends after not having seen them for a year, and I’ve had a couple of people from UCLA come visit me! I’m still in touch with all of my international friends and hope to visit them soon (making the most of that free accommodation!). I’m so glad I did a year abroad: not only does it look fantastic when I’m applying for jobs/internships now, but I made the most amazing friends and memories that I’ll keep for a lifetime.
Highlights of my year:
- Living in LA! I can’t begin to explain how ridiculous that was. Going to the People’s Choice Awards as a social activity (WHO EVEN DOES THAT), casually going to Beverly Hills for cupcakes. I remember freaking out the first time I saw the Hollywood Sign, until I saw it so many times it was like ‘meh, it’s the Hollywood Sign’.
- Travel! I got to visit places I’ve always dreamed of going to: Yosemite, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, have I mentioned LA?!
- Joining a Fraternity. It was as weird as I thought it would be. I wrote a whole blog about this a few months ago, go read it!
And that’s the end of my final blog *cries*, please send me back!