By Imogen Henry-Campbell, Case Western Reserve University, USA
As the end of the semester approaches, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would reflect on the incredible experiences I have gained from studying abroad.
It is easy to forget why you chose to study abroad when you doing the third round of midterms and have spent endless evenings in the library. I was feeling slightly lost, terribly homesick and unmotivated until I realized how lucky I am to have experienced new things and to have travelled around the world.
Over the last month alone I have managed to travel to Toronto, see Niagara Falls, experience a traditional American Thanksgiving and walk around downtown Chicago. I will try to share some of the incredible things I have done and encourage people to make the most of studying abroad:
Toronto and Niagara Falls:
Travelling around America does not need to be expensive. Sites like Airbnb and Turo should become your new best friend. Hiring a car from Turo was a great idea and after being in America for a while you realise that a 5-hour drive is relatively short. By staying around 45 minutes out of the city we managed to save a lot of money on accommodation. These are some of the places we visited which I would recommend:
Distillery District: Walking around the historic cobbled streets of the former distillery district was a great contrast to the sky-rise modern buildings of downtown Toronto. Filled with unique shops, restaurants and breweries it was a great place to walk around.
Ripley’s Aquarium: Right next to the CN tower, the aquarium is one of the best attractions I have been to. The moving walkway surrounded by sharks, turtles and fish of all kinds was a highlight for me.
Graffiti Alley: A great area to walk around in Toronto filled with vivid pieces of art with the skyline in the backdrop.
Over Easy and Momofuku: We stumbled upon a brunch restaurant called Over Easy. The entrance was surprisingly in a fancy hotel, but once inside the homely blue and yellow décor was a great setting for the start of our trip. We were also lucky to eat at the noodle bar Momofuku owned by David Chang. If you like Ramen or spicy noodles this a place to try.
Niagara Falls: We took the small detour on the route back to visit the falls and I am so glad that we did. If you want to go, visit from the Canadian side as it was beautifully maintained and nothing like the tourist hub I expected. It was just natural beauty at its best and one of my highlights of studying abroad so far.
Thanksgiving and Chicago:
Chicago: Very last minute, my friend from Manchester told me he would be in Chicago and we stayed in downtown Chicago for the night. If you need a cheap, easy and friendly place to stay check out the Hostel called Urban Holiday lofts; it was the perfect place to stay at last minute. Being a Londoner, it is hard to find cities that live up to home but Chicago really was a great city. The Bean or Cloud Gate was a great piece of art, and the reflection of the iconic skyline of Chicago in Millennium Park was something special.
Thanksgiving: My friend kindly invited a few exchange students to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with his family in a town an hour outside of Chicago. I really appreciated the chance to experience a traditional American style Thanksgiving and I am thankful to my friend and his family for making us feel so welcome. I have asked a few of my friends to sum up what Thanksgiving means to them and it really is a time to spend time with family, relax, eat a lot of food and give thanks to things you are grateful for.
With the holiday season approaching it can be a hard time to be away, especially as Christmas to me means spending time with friends and family. But by taking the time to reflect the great experiences I have had whilst studying in America I feel incredibly grateful.
Follow my time abroad on Instagram: imogen_go_abroad