By Eleanor Gaskill-Jones, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
With my first month in the USA under my belt, here are a few things I’ve learned.
1) Americans are FASCINATED by English accents.
We all remember the first week of uni; sitting in someone’s Oak House kitchen, finding the way your new friends said words like ‘bath’ and ‘toothbrush’ absolutely hilarious, and arguing over what you call a small bread roll, but the novelty wore off by the end of September. Now imagine that on steroids, but its every time you open your mouth. I knew going in that people over here would find our accents interesting, but never in my life have I felt so much like a zoo animal! At first it was difficult constantly being marked out as ‘different’, but I’ve grown to find it entertaining, and take pleasure in gently explaining to people at parties that everyone has an accent, including them.
2) Sports are a huge deal, even at university level.
I have been to three American Football games now, and all I’ve learned is that Rutgers sucks at it, and it’s nowhere near as exciting as Euro 2020 when we thought it was coming home. That being said, the games are a fun way to spend a Saturday, and an excuse to get dressed up in themed outfits for your team colours; here, it’s red for Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights. The sports facilities are huge, with each sport (football, basketball, swimming) having a dedicated national-level arena. The Armitage Centre could never.
3) The weather is extreme!
When they said, “Everything’s bigger in the States”, they were not lying. Upon landing in late August, when the pitiful British summer is basically over, it was 30-35 degrees every day for another 2 weeks and staying as high as 20 until mid-October. I was woefully unprepared clothes-wise as Manchester doesn’t stray between 5-15 degrees really. Then, on September 1st, we had the pleasure of experiencing our first Category 2 Hurricane, Hurricane Ida, which my Jersey-native flatmate said was the worst since Storm Sandy in 2012. Luckily, our dorm is a solid concrete apartment block, but houses in nearby towns were ripped apart while the NYC subway flooded.
4) You couldn’t really live here without a car.
Living in Manchester for 2 years so far has really spoilt me in terms of reliance on public transport. Having never learned to drive (oops), I survived perfectly fine until now on Metrolink trams, National Rail and Stagecoach buses. I was in for a real shock when I got to New Jersey. Decent public transport is non-existent here. There’s a pretty convenient train that takes you direct to NYC a minute walk from my flat, or you can go to Philadelphia, Boston or even DC conveniently. But getting to and from anywhere that isnt a major city was a nightmare at first. Having opted out of the expensive Rutgers meal plan, myself and my roommate who is also from a UK university attempted to go to Aldi, which we were told (by Google Maps) was a 40-minute walk or there was a 15 minute bus. However, said bus is extremely unreliable, which led to us sat in 35-degree weather for an hour on the side of a highway, for a journey that’s a 7-minute drive. We laugh about it now, but in that moment, we considered getting the first flight out of Newark Liberty International. I’ve somewhat tamed the beast of New Jersey Transit for now, but I’d do anything for the 143 to Didsbury Aldi right now.
So that was more or less my first month in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I’m still adapting, but the next few months are looking good.