Returning to Manchester

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook, The State University of New York, USA)

It’s strange to think that I’ve been back in the UK for as long as I was in America and the time has gone so quickly since my return. In a way my whole semester abroad feels like a distant memory, but sometimes it feels like just yesterday.

The adjustment back into Manchester life took a little longer than I had expected, although socially I felt like I slipped straight back in, the workload and teaching style I had been so used to here in first year came as a shock to the system. I feel I have forgotten slightly how to revise for one cumulative final exam, instead of the midterms to which I had become accustomed. Nonetheless, it’s now like I’ve never left, except I have so many incredible memories and friends from all over the globe.

If you’re reading this in doubt as to whether you’re going to miss out in Manchester – don’t worry! There are definitely conversations I can’t join in, but the semester flew by, and all of a sudden I am back to the same old routine and adventurous weekends involve a trip into Piccadilly as opposed to New York!

The only thing now that I’m struggling with is keeping up with my international friends dotted all over the globe, as with my class schedule and time differences it’s tricky to coordinate Skype. Thankfully social media makes it easy enough to keep in touch! I can’t believe it’s really all over but I’m making plans to see my friends, sofa hopping around Europe this summer and have some American friends coming to visit this summer too, so Stony Brook is definitely not just a distant memory!

Leaving America

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, USA)

Sunsetting on my time in NYC
The sun setting on my time in NYC.

I originally wrote this blog the day I landed home from New York, but in the hustle and bustle of Christmas I’ve only just found/posted it!

I’ve just landed home from the seven hour flight that marks the end of my time studying abroad in New York. The last four months of my life have flown by, and sitting here reflecting on them it almost feels like a dream.

There were ups and downs and definitely moments when being in Manchester would have been much easier, but the memories I have come away with are some of the best of my life. Here are the things I wish I could go back and tell myself at the start of the journey.

  1. The time will fly by. The prospect of being away from Manchester for four months seemed pretty daunting at first, but that time flies when you’re having fun, and that really was the case for me.
  2. Don’t wish the time away. Pretty similar to above really, but there was one point about a month in where I wished that time would just move a little faster and I could get home and back to the ‘real world’. By the end I was willing the clock to move a little slower
  3. Be in the moment. There was no use worrying about missing out on Manchester life at the start, I quickly accepted that I was having a huge adventure and it would all be back to normal soon but that being in the moment/country you’re in is the most important thing.
  4. Always say yes. I think I did this anyway, but being abroad gave me so many opportunities to travel and experience things out of my comfort zone. It was great to be able to have the independence and live somewhere completely different.
  5. Take lots of pictures Being able to reflect on everything I did and remember the amazing times I had is something I will treasure, the pictures are a way of me sharing with everyone back home the amazing things I did.

I could go on, but now I’m going to get back into London life and enjoy being at home and my comfy bed! The move back to Manchester in January is the next big event in my calendar, which is strange after having travel plans almost every weekend for the last four months, but I’m definitely looking forward to the break!

The Big Apple

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, USA)

I’ve just returned to SBU from Thanksgiving, and while passing through New York, on the way to visit friends, I realise how much I have taken my proximity to the city for granted. Life will be a little less magical when it is no longer a bus ride away.

No matter how many times I go into the city, it will never loose its charm. Only a bus ride away from campus, and with four months to explore, I was convinced I’d tick everything off my list. Instead, everything is still very much unchecked and I find myself with only 2 weeks to go.

Although there is still a list of things I would like to do, I feel I’ve explored the city as more than a tourist, and often find myself wandering around, trying out different cafes and taking in the atmosphere downtown.

Here are some of my highlights:

  • Bike Rides in Central Park – My brother came to visit for a weekend in October and the weather was still nice enough to enjoy all the Park had to offer. The Park itself is huge, so you’re slightly limited by foot, but renting bikes allowed us to get all the way to the top of the Park, see the different lakes and get a little exercise (so we could pretend to justify the food we ate later).
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Bike rides through the park
  • Ice-Skating in Central Park – Running theme; the Park is beautiful! To celebrate our last weekend together in the city before Thanksgiving and exams, some of the internationals and I went into the city for the weekend; and no Christmas trip would be complete without ice-skating. It was picturesque and relatively quiet and felt like we were on a film set!
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Ice-Skating in Central Park
  • Broadway – Coming from London, I’ve seen quite a few West End productions, but there was something magical about seeing Matilda the Musical on Broadway! I took a 7 year-old family friend, and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more! I was also lucky enough to see a play with my brother which had transferred from the West End.
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Even the set was incredible at Matilda
  • Top of the Rock – For such a tall city it’s difficult to see it from above, but the Rockefeller, at 70 floors high, gave us a great vantage point over Central Park, the Empire State and the rest of Manhattan. I’m still hoping to fit in a night-time trip too!
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Central Park from the Top of the Rock
  • Long walks – My dad also came out to visit and we spent 8 hours walking from the Park down to the World Trade Centre Memorial. The Memorial itself has been beautifully done and it a lovely place for reflection. We explored Downtown – Soho, Greenwich Village, Tribeca with amazing shops and cafes!
  • Shopping – No trip to the City would be complete without a little shop! I’m saving myself for the last weekend here, so I don’t run out of money before I return home, but with cheaper prices and numerous exclusive chains and boutiques it would be rude not to!
  • Eating! – Finally the food! Although the portion sizes often leave me defeated, it’s hard not to be lured in by the endless options of quirky cafes. I’ve eaten overlooking the Grand Central concourse, tried out ‘kronuts’ and shared a table with Jake Gyllenhaal in Soho at breakfast! Certainly beats eating in the Uni canteen!
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Gelato in Eataly

Thankfully I still have one weekend after finals to explore before I head back to England! For now it’s back to the library!

Continue reading “The Big Apple”

A lot can change in a year

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook University, The State University of New York, USA)

This time last year I was trawling through blogs trying to decide if I was going to apply for the Study Abroad Programme. If this is you today… DO IT! A year ago I was sitting in Manchester, searching through the lists of different universities, trying to match up courses and wondering if perhaps it was too much of a challenge, and that was just the application let alone the move! Now I’m sitting on Long Island, packing for a trip to Canada, with New York my closest major city… This blog focuses more on the studying, which is the biggest aspect of my time on campus, so choose somewhere with courses that appeal to you, not just for the reputation or location. I am hugely lucky that I get all 3! The time is flying by and choosing SBU is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Academic Differences

When I arrived in America I wasn’t sure how the teaching between Manchester and SBU would match up. However, 7 weeks in, I’m starting to feel like the similarities may be fewer than the differences.

Exams

Unlike at Manchester, there is no break between classes and exams to consolidate your knowledge. I’ve just finished my first round of midterms and, although there is less content, the techniques and study skills required here are very different. There’s always room for improvement and I’m still learning, so hopefully this will reflect in my scores next time.

Classes/Credits

In the first week I had wondered why the American students in my classes gave me slightly odd looks when I listed off the classes I was taking. Turns out no one takes four third year Biology classes without risking social suicide. The credit system here is set up so that as well as taking classes from your major, you also have to take electives, which will be first or second year courses. However, the professors are amazing and the content is challenging but interesting and the library has quickly become my refuge!

Lectures

Unlike Manchester, the lectures here start at 8.30am, which has been fine on sunny days, but I’m dreading when winter sets in. The lectures also all run for an hour and a half, something I am still getting used to. It’s great because the content is taught thoroughly in large blocks, but it’s also a challenge to stay focused for such a long time period and I find myself needing to review the last 15 minutes more thoroughly than the first after the lectures!

It hasn’t been ‘all work, no play’ though. Since I last wrote, the Uni organised a trip to a Yankees baseball game, with the Yankess beating the Toronto Blue Jays by 5 runs to 3. Hearing the whole stadium sing ‘New York, New York’ at the end is something I will never forget.

We also had our homecoming game (Varsity but on another level) which was incredible. I spent it with American classmates and got the ‘true’ experience. The loyalty to the Seawolves was evident all over the parking lots and the atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. Unfortunately, we lost the game in the last minute and a half, but it was still a day I will never forget.

I’ve also seen friends from home, been to a Broadway show and seen the city from the ‘Top of the Rock,’ so I am certainly making the most of my free time. This weekend a group of international students are making a trip to Toronto to see Niagara Falls and my mum is coming to visit the weekend after, so there’s a lot to look forward to. With time is flying by, we’re already planning ahead to the end of November!

Study abroad has already provided me with many challenges and amazing memories, I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring!

At the Yankees Stadium!
At the Yankees Game!
Empire State of Mind
Empire State of Mind
On top of the World
On Top of the World
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Germany, NZ, England and Australia at Homecoming

Time flies when you’re having fun

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook, The State University of New York, USA)

I’ve been at Stony Brook for almost a month now, and yet is seems like just yesterday that I arrived to an empty room and was questioning quite what I had let myself in for. Since then I’ve barely had a moment to stop and think (and write the blog!)

Before I left I was warned that I would stick out with my accent, but I didn’t quite appreciate how much so, we speak the same language don’t we?! Everywhere I go people pick up on it, and I regularly get asked to say ‘something English’. I’ve also been asked if I know the Royal Family or Harry Potter… England’s not that small!

As well as settling in here at Stony Brook I’ve also been lucky enough to do some travelling already. We had a 5-day weekend after our first week of classes, so a group of us international students went to Washington D.C. for the weekend. It surreal to walk The Mall and see so many historic monuments all in the same place. We also visited parts of the Smithsonian, although we would need a week there to do the place justice! Fresh from our return from DC we rushed back out to go to the US Open. This was incredible as I’m a big tennis fan and went to Wimbledon this summer, so it was great to see the contrast between the two tournaments.

I’ve also spent a bit of time in the city itself, and hope to explore more in the coming weeks. There is so much to see and do but it’s only a bus ride from the uni campus straight into the centre so that shouldn’t be a problem. We went last weekend to visit the 9/11 Memorial in advance of the anniversary yesterday. It was incredibly moving to see what they have done with the site and the beautiful memorials they have created, which are such a contrast to the busy city surrounding the area. Here on campus students were offered the chance to put a small silver and red windmill into the ground in memory of those who lost their lives. It was nice to be able to be a part of the memorial, especially being this close to the city.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial
City Girl
City Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stony Brook life itself is going great too, my classes are really interesting and the work is kicking in now, which is a great challenge, but there’s still time to support the Seawolves and although, for now, travelling will have to take a back seat, I’m already planning my next American adventure.

Arrival at Stony Brook

By Annabel Savage (Stony Brook University, New York).

Welcome to...
Welcome to…

It’s strange to think that only a year ago I was getting ready to start at Manchester, and here I am now, sitting in my new room at Stony Brook University, Long Island, preparing to start a new life here. Back in January when I first found out I’d been accepted here, it felt like a million miles away, but tomorrow classes start and the true college experience begins.

The last few weeks prior to my departure had been hectic trying to see everyone before I left, so I didn’t have too much time to think about what being away from home for 4 months would actually be like. Although I had some moments where I was really nervous,  now I’ve arrived I’m super excited to start my new life here.

Getting to Stony Brook from the city was really easy, just a train ride on the Long Island Rail Road, and only a short walk from the station. However, with a 32kg suitcase (I got slightly carried away with my packing!) and after a long flight from London, the journey was pretty tiring! Arriving to an empty room, exhausted, I started to question what I’d let myself in for. Since then I’ve kitted out my room, stuck up photos from home and met some other international students at our orientation and it’s already starting to feel much more like home.

SBU Campus
SBU Campus

Unlike Manchester, SBU is a campus university with over 1000 acres. This itself is overwhelming, I feel like I’ll definitely be getting lost on the way to class the first few times. The campus is beautiful though, and at 30 odd degrees so far I just feel like I’m on holiday!

One of the things that is immediately obvious when arriving at Stony Brook is how patriotic everyone is about SBU and the Seawolves. Everyone has Stony Brook kit and wears it around campus, almost like a uniform! So, of course, I had to jump on the bandwagon! The Seawolf is the University mascot, and everywhere is blasted with seawolves – I’m not sure if we even have a mascot at Manchester, but here it’s pretty hard to miss!

My new Stony Brook kit!

Now I’m just getting ready for the start of class, I’ve got some jam-packed days (8.30am-8.30pm with a few breaks in-between) and four-day weekends, so it will be interesting to see how the first week goes – I’ll keep you updated!