By Amy Williams, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Last day of classes was yesterday, and whilst it’s good to know that I’ll be going home for Christmas soon, it does mean I have my finals to take first. With the multiple midterms I’ve taken, and despite the fact that only two of them were in the middle of the term, it does mean that I’ve had to keep on top of my work so I’m somewhat prepared for the finals, even if I do have them at 8am.
My term at UNC is 16 weeks long, and I’ve been in America for nearly 4 months now, and time has flown by, and I can’t quite believe that I’m halfway through my year abroad (and over halfway through my degree, but I’ll ignore that). Pretty much everything over here is different to what I’m used to, but I’m glad for it – I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, so in some ways, I do feel I’m slightly more confident.
It hasn’t been without its difficulties though – starting from the beginning in terms of making friends was a lot more difficult than I realised. I live in a corridor style building, and without the communal area of a kitchen like in Manchester, it was a bit hard to get to know the people around me. Still, I’ve managed to not spend all my time alone here, which you might be glad to know.
Travelling abroad can be a bit trying as well. Fall and Thanksgiving break are ideal times to spend somewhere other than campus, but going away at the weekend as well. At the same time you have to balance any exams you have as well as other homework assignments, and if you’re like me and not on a pass/fail year, unfortunately sometimes experiencing life abroad has to take a back seat for the library. My advice for this? Plan ahead, which is easier said than done, but once you’ve put down solid plans to do something, it can sometimes force you to do the work you don’t want to, otherwise you spend a three hour car journey writing a paper you should have written earlier – it’s not fun, I can tell you that!
UNC Chapel Hill is a big university, but if you don’t have access to a car, it can seem quite secluded but fortunately there’s a group here called the Carolina Adventure Group, that do day hikes and the occasional overnight trip, so you can always see if there is something similar at your uni. Not only is it an easy way to meet new people, it’s a nice way to get away from campus for a while, and see the sights a bit closer to you.
I think the most important thing I’ve realised studying abroad is that asking for help is actually pretty easy. The professors here are really nice and always happy to help, but the RA in your dorm is another person to talk to if you’re wanting someone closer in age. It has been difficult not being able to physically see my family for this long, but there are plenty of other people who are in the same situation as me, so it’s kind of good to know I’m not the only one in this situation.
So I’m not entirely sure what this blog post was actually about, more of a late night ramble if I’m honest, but I hope I have managed to impart some vague things about studying abroad. Feel free to ask questions!