Now this might just be some anecdotal evidence, and if this is the case you might want to disregard this blog, but it seems as though us Brits (unfortunately??) love a bit of a moan about just about anything and everything.
Two of my Spanish friends picked up on this behaviour of mine quite quickly, and fellow British exchange students have also noted that others have highlighted this too. I mean sure, no one does pubs like us, football, roast dinners, getting sloshed (42s, Factory and 256 seem particularly relevant for Manchester students here), Cadbury’s chocolate, our self-deprecating sense of humour, tea… I could go on and on.
However, there are actually some things (in fact, quite a lot) that I prefer about my experience in Arizona and subsequently the USA.
NO. 1: THE WEATHER
Let’s face it, British weather, in particularly Manchester’s climate, is notoriously (pardon my French) s**te. Sure, I love waking up mid-morning in winter to witness the 4 hours we are blessed with so-called sunlight, which is actually just varying degrees of greyness and that’s on the assumption it isn’t raining, which as we already know, it is. But I love waking up quite a bit more in Arizona where it started out at a balmy 45ºC in August and still held on around 20-23ºC in December. ASU is sun-seekers’ Heaven.
NO. 2: THE ACCOMMODATION
Whilst this might come across as an unnecessary flex (which it kinda is), student accommodation at ASU is PHENOMENAL.
Forget Oak House and Owen’s Park. ASU sets the bar at all kinds of higher standards. Gone are the dingy basements of Withington, no more are those nasty shared bathrooms, away with the mice infestations and crooked landlords of Fallow.
I am extremely fortunate to live at RISE! On Apache which is just a few minutes’ walk from the Tempe campus and boasts quite the array of amenities. I’ve got access to a 24/7 gym, swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, golf simulator, ski simulator, massage chairs and that’s forgetting the modern open-plan apartment that I live in. I hope the photos below do it (and Canvas) justice.
This is quite a subjective preference, depending on how intro or extroverted one is, but generally the ‘strangers’ in America are a lot friendlier than us Brits. Obviously having a British accent does make me stand out a bit more than others, but it’s pleasant when considering the sheer number of strangers that will just strike up conversation with you.
In the lift (or should I say elevator), at a shop, in class, at parties and just about anywhere you can imagine, at some point you’ll be greeted by someone random. Whilst this isn’t something for everyone (I can picture people reading this scoffing at me!!), as quite a social person, this is great. No more random stares on the tube when someone tries to talk to you.
NO. 4: THE LEARNING STYLE
American universities are a lot more similar to Sixth Form in some aspects than our unis. Once again I am set weekly homework, quizzes and am expected to be present in class most of the time – in which most people contribute during these classes unlike at home. When my timetable says I have 12 hours a week at ASU, it means 12… not 2 tutorials and lectures in bed!
Another reason for my preference here is the spread out nature for obtaining marks. As a PPE student, I often have entire modules decided by marks in just two essays for the whole semester. At ASU, there are lots of components to our marks and ultimately I feel this is a better approach as grades demonstrate an all-around skill set and also don’t punish rare slip-ups as much.
NO. 5: TRAVELLING
I fondly remember family trips to the Yorkshire dales, or the Peaks and some weekends away in London from my childhood. I also am so grateful for the host of European countries that I’ve been able to visit – but travelling (even during COVID) in the USA is a whole new level!
America seems to host almost every climate under the sun and each state can accommodate different tastes for different people. So far, I’ve visited Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Chicago and Vancouver yet my bucket-list includes so many other states. Flights are dirt cheap (I picked up a £56 return ticket to Chicago over the weekend), no currency exchanges are necessary, nor COVID tests (he says with bated breath) and everyone speaks perfect English!
In other words, if you’re thinking of studying abroad in the USA (specifically Arizona…) then do it!!