By Eleanor, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
When people have asked me “How is America?” one thing I always mention is the weather, in typical Brit fashion. However, I feel justified in this as during my time studying abroad, I have braced all temperatures, and at a more leafy university, found a new appreciation for the outdoors.
When I first got to Rutgers in late August, it was roughly 25-30 degrees; this was expected for the summer, but I didn’t realise it would stay warm until the end of September! This was a pleasant way to start the year, compared to the usual grey fresher’s weeks at the start of a Manchester academic year.
As I settled in further and the temperatures did begin to cool, something I noticed about Jersey, and especially in Rutgers’ leafy campuses, was how beautiful autumn could be. By autumn in England, I was used to mushy puddles of fallen brown leaves and grey skies. In Jersey, the trees turned all shades of red, yellow and orange, with hardly any rain.
When we left to go home for the Christmas holidays, it hadn’t become TOO cold yet; I assumed my Jersey-native flatmate had been exaggerating when she warned us of the need for snow-boots and thermals. However, coming back in January was a different story. I experienced temperatures up to minus 13 degrees daily, and snow; proper thick snow that stuck around for days, in temperatures so cold that it didn’t melt into slush. We even had a makeshift snow day, making real snow angels and attempting to sledge down a hill (albeit on a pizza box).
Spring in Jersey for the rest of the second semester wasn’t too dissimilar from temperatures at home, so my “big coat” didn’t get put away until April. Once it warmed up though, I could once more appreciate the nature on campus, this time in the shape of blossom which appeared to be on every single tree. As my time at Rutgers came to an end, the sun came out much more and my final day in Jersey was a lovely 24 degrees; in a cyclical kind of way, it was like the day I first arrived.
As someone who chose Manchester for university as a way to be part of a major city, I surprised myself with how much I appreciated and took pleasure in the nature and surroundings of Rutgers. While the university is in a mid-sized town, the majority of my classes were on Douglass campus. This part of the university is situated a little further out from the main centre, near forests and amalgamated with Cook campus, which has its own farm. I am looking forward to getting back into city life for my final year at Manchester, but during my time at Rutgers (especially when I’ve felt lonely), appreciating nature and taking time to observe my surroundings has been great for my mental health.