After I had got back from Texas, which was a trip to celebrate the end of my exams, I arrived back just in time to celebrate Christmas here in Phoenix. This was a good chance to spend time with the new friends I have made in my first semester both from the US and abroad. All in all I cannot believe how fast the last few months have gone, and it is weird to think that I am already past hallway through my year abroad. This is a good chance to reflect on my first semester, as there are a lot of key differences between ASU and the University of Manchester. I think the largest is how much more intense the learning style is here compared to at Manchester, this is most apparent in the form of exams which I must take every couple of weeks here whereas at Manchester they are only at the end of the semester usually, which is the case with Geography anyway. Another big difference is that the lectures are usually split over two a week rather than one, and there is greater interaction in the lectures, with participation actively encouraged and even given extra credit in some classes. These are some of the differences I wasn’t aware of when I first came here, although I knew that the weather here was going to be a lot better than in Manchester, it was so warm I got to spend Christmas Day round the pool!
After Christmas I was lucky that my parents flew in to visit me from the UK on New Year’s Day. Las Vegas was one of the places they had always wanted to go and so we arranged to meet there, as it is only a quick 45 minute flight from me. After spending a few days with them there, we organized a road trip to get back to Phoenix as my classes started the following week. This road trip started at Las Vegas, and then we crossed into Arizona at the Hoover Dam and took a tour of the dam and power-plant. We then went to the Grand Canyon West Rim, and did the sky-walk there, and then went to the South rim which I think it the best place to go to see the Grand Canyon. We then went up north to Horseshoe Bend and the Lower Antelope Canyon near Page, before crossing into Utah to go to Monument Valley, which is where a lot of the old western films where shot. On the way back down to Phoenix we then went stayed in Winslow and went to the meteor crater there, which is the oldest proven meteor crater on earth. My parents then stayed an extra week in Scottsdale in the sun before leaving back for the UK, while for me classes started for my second and final semester here at ASU.