When you study abroad for a year, going home for Christmas isn’t as simple as it normally is. Despite the Manchester to London train being expensive, flights to and from America do actually manage to top that, and so whether you stay abroad or go home is a question that needs to be asked.
Staying abroad – UNC offers free housing over the winter break. Whilst moving dorms for the duration may be a possibility, it is cheaper than a hotel. Travelling is always an option, especially if you can’t travel over the summer; it means you get to see some of the sights for where you are. Maps don’t really do America justice – it’s a big country, and you can drive for 3 hours and still be in the same state, so the weekend travels you might have done during the semester might not have covered all the places you want to go to.
For me, actually seeing my family at Christmas was the most important thing, so I went home, although it isn’t without its pros and cons. Having to get over jetlag again wasn’t fun, and I felt that it took up a lot of time that I wanted to spend with my family, as I spent a lot of time trying to stay awake rather than paying attention to them. Just because I went home doesn’t mean I saw a lot of the family. I’m the youngest child, so even though I wanted to see my siblings, they had to go to work, as did my parents, and friends from Manchester and school had exams in January so they had to revise.
It was Christmas and I didn’t have to revise – I finished my finals mid December, and didn’t start classes until mid January, so there was no school work to be done! I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time trying to catch up on British TV that I’d missed, as I was spent my time enjoying American Netflix rather than trying to get my VPN to work. That being said, the holidays felt a lot shorter than they were. It’s a bad idea to leave on the last day of finals – exams can get moved around, and they can be at any time during the day, so don’t book flights home that day (I also spent time saying goodbye to some international friends who were only studying abroad for the semester). Cheaper flights also ended up being earlier than halls opened so I flew back pretty early – although I got stranded in New York for a night as it snowed in North Carolina and they can’t deal with snow.
Speaking of snow in North Carolina, it doesn’t happen often, but I am very happy and fortunate to say that it did this year! My four day week, Monday was MLK day, turned into a one class week, plus my roommate is from Argentina and she hadn’t seen snow! It did briefly snow last semester, not enough to cancel class, but enough that my Australian friend was let out mid final exam, as she hadn’t seen snow either! They did then give her 15 minutes extra time.
So going home for Christmas isn’t a decision to be made lightly – and consider weather when booking flights, even if snow was the last thing to be expected!
One last thing – WE BEAT DUKE!!!