Reflections on my time at UMass

I’ve been back in the UK for over a month now and it feels like only yesterday I was packing up my room ready to leave Massachusetts. When they say your time abroad will go so quickly, they weren’t lying – it flew by! I had the most amazing time, and here I’ve compiled some of the main differences and hardest things I had to adapt to when moving abroad.

Studying in a brand-new country and adjusting to a new educational system can be tricky at first, especially when there are so many differences between these two systems. I found the style of teaching to be similar but the way they examine and generate your grades is completely different. Due to the constant testing with weekly quizzes, homeworks and midterms, it meant you were regularly caught up on the workload (ideally!!) making the finals less stressful. Having no exams to revise for over Christmas for the first time in what felt like ages was such a relief! I definitely didn’t envy my course mates back in Manchester who had 6 exams within the space of 12 days! 

Being on a university campus was such a change having lived in busy, bustling cities all my life. The campus is huge so I definitely did a lot more walking than I would do in Manchester, as classes could be on opposite sides of the campus. It felt easier to get into a sense of routine, as the classrooms, libraries, dining halls and dorm rooms were all in one place. Although I got used to this sense of familiarity pretty quickly, no two days felt the same as there was always so much going on and new places to explore around campus. It also made a nice excuse to go travelling or visit local towns in order to escape the bubble of campus life for a little while. 

The weather did take some getting used to. The temperature reached as low as -18oC, and snow covered the campus for most of December. Classes had to be cancelled one day due to the heavy snowfall, which meant people brought out their sledges, snowboards or even improvised with bin lids to make the most of the day off.  One regret I have is leaving it till the last few weeks of term to buy myself winter boots and a beanie!

My whole experience was something I’ll never forget – I met amazing people from all over the world, was lucky enough to travel to some incredible places and learnt so much about this country and its culture. For people contemplating studying abroad – as terrifying, overwhelming and daunting as it may seem, step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself! When I read all these blog posts before I embarked on my exchange and heard about other people’s experiences, I thought they all sounded so cliché. But sat here now, after experiencing some of the best few months of my life it turns out they were right. 

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