8 THINGS YOU ONLY LEARN FROM STUDYING IN THE US

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By Erdoo Yongo (North Carolina State University, USA)

1. You always seem to have some kind of test – whether it is a midterm or pop-up quiz, these are so frequent that after the first few tests you stop being surprised when your professor issues you with a test.

2. You have to submit papers via hard copy – for those of us who are used to staying up all night before an essay is due and submitting it online with only minutes to spare, this is quite a hassle.

3. Attendance contributes to your final grade – most professors take attendance every class to monitor students attendance and usually if students miss more than a certain number of classes, it is deducted off your attendance mark… How fun…

4. Students don’t have seminars – so this means that you will usually have a day (or if you are lucky enough a few days) off each week to sleep all day. But even though seminars don’t exist, professors ensure students don’t fall asleep in their classes by making sure participation in classes contribute to your final grade… Awesome!

5. Students get unimaginable amounts of free things – those of you who thought freshers’ week was the biggest freebie event, you were wrong! American ‘colleges’ give out tonnes of free goodies – pizza, cakes, water bottles, t-shirts – on a (nearly) weekly basis… #Winning

6. Sports is a huge thing – everyone in some way can relate to sports, whether it is watching it, such as football (not what real football is, but a sport similar to rugby), or going to the gym. The gym is amazing, with a swimming pool, basketball courts and places where you can rent out equipment… for free! I never thought I would hear myself say it but, I LOVE THE GYM!

7. Students don’t interact in classes – this is pretty odd because for most of us it is a usual thing to talk to people in lectures.

8. People tend to recognise your accent – this is especially true if you have a British accent. When you speak in class some students look at you as if you grew another head. People notice the accent so much that it becomes strange if someone doesn’t notice your accent.

JAMAICA JAMAICA

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By Erdoo Yongo (North Carolina State University, USA)

So I went to Jamaica for spring break and the first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane was the heat. Everyone working at the airport were super chilled and friendly. After the tedious task of getting through immigration and customs, I was picked up by my airport transfer. I would recommend this method of getting to your hotel as taxis are known for taking people to the wrong places. It took about an hour and a half to get to Negril from the airport, but the journey was relaxed and the driver was very talkative so that made it seem quicker than it was.

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Upon reaching the hotel, Eddie’s Tigress 2, I dumped my luggage and got ready to explore. Of course by exploring, I mean head to the beach. The beach was a proper beach… I was so excited; as those of you from the UK know, when you go to the beach there are usually just stones to sit on and dirty water to look at, but as I said before, this was an actual beach!

I decided to do the most touristy activity and sunbathe on the deck chairs. This was fun, but I am black so I couldn’t do this all day as I would probably end up burnt.

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Going out in Negril was interesting. The best nights were on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday a few of the girls and I went to Bourbon Beach seeking good music and a great atmosphere – and I can say we weren’t disappointed. Although the dance floor was empty when we arrived, it didn’t take us too long to start the party. The tunes that were played by the DJ varied between mainstream pop – Beyoncé etc. and dancehall – Beenie Man etc. On Thursday night, all of us went to Jungle. Someone staying at our hotel stated that they planned their holiday around this night, so I had high expectations and upon my arrival to Jungle, I totally understood why. Again, they played mainstream music and dancehall, but what I really loved was there was different atmosphere to the beach. It was a serious club – a ‘party-hard-or-go-home’ type of club.

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Overall it reminded me a lot of Nigeria. Jamaica was amazing… The food was great – rice and peas with chicken and salad was a dish that I indulged myself in on several occasions. I cannot forget about the Ting too, a drink that makes grapefruit taste so sweet! The locals were so friendly – when walking past strangers on the street, they would offer greetings to us and, in times of confusion, assistance in finding places. I particularly loved that everyone was stress-free and relaxed, it is really a place for ‘no worries’, and that was definitely what I had by the end of the holiday.

NOW YOU’RE IN NEW YORK, NEW YORK, NEW YORK

By Erdoo Yongo (North Carolina State University, USA)

As I stated in my first post, before heading off to my exchange university, North Carolina State University, I went to New York. On New Year’s Day I boarded the plane from London Gatwick, not knowing what to expect from the USA – especially New York, but still feeling excited. The best thing about a late flight was that as the plane was landing all you could see were lights. Flashing lights… I guess I should not have been surprised as New York is the city that never sleeps!

After an eight hour flight, my tiredness outweighed the excitement that I was previously feeling. Following the tedious process of waiting for my luggage, going through immigration and a thirty minute taxi ride to my hotel in Manhattan (Pod 51 which was fairly decent and reasonably priced – http://www.thepodhotel.com/ ), in my bed I was able to appreciate the events of the day, comprehending that I was finally in the USA.

Another student from the University of Manchester going to NCSU also decided to spend a couple of days in New York, so I was not alone (we stayed at the same hotel). I was thankful to have a familiar face around (who could read a map much better than I can!).

Since London is five hours ahead, my first night was not the best, but my excitement to see New York had me up at 7am. As I walked out of the hotel, the first thing that I noticed was how big everything – buildings and streets – was compared to London or the UK in general. Our first (planned) stop was Central Park. However we took directions that allowed us to go through Fifth Avenue. I was so excited by all the shops. I, of course had to go into MAC Cosmetics and get a few necessities.

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After lots of window shopping on Fifth Avenue, we headed to Central Park. It was amazing. Seeing it just seemed to help me realise how massive the park was – I did so much walking but did not even walk through half of it. From Central Park, we then went to the Natural History Museum, which is the biggest museum I have ever seen in my life. We then navigated our way to Juilliard School. It was so strange to be at a place that I always associated to movies such as Step Up.

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The most memorable part of the day was going to the Empire State Building and Times Square. Before going up to the 92nd floor of the Empire State Building, we had to queue for 1 hour and 30 minutes. But once we got to the 92nd floor, it was like a dream; I could see all of New York – Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan and The Statue of Liberty. I honestly felt as though I was in a movie.
One thing that I did not expect was for it to be so cold at the top, but I had waited 1 hour and 30 minutes… I was on top of the Empire State Building – nothing was going to ruin it!

Prior to my trip to New York, I was advised to visit Time Square when it was dark “as you get the best views and pictures”. Of course my sister was right! All the flashing lights in Times Square made it seems as if it was still daylight. Time Square is a must-see – the scale and magnificence of it cannot be explained!

Sorry I haven’t been up-to-date with my posts. I have been drowned in work, but I will try and post more! Also, if you want more photos head over to my personal blog – http://www.oteol.com

Predeparture Thoughts Before NCSU

By Erdoo Yongo (North Carolina State University, USA)

It is the morning before I leave for the US and I am feeling a mixture of emotions – on one hand I am feeling really happy and excited for the adventure ahead, but on the other hand I am feeling quite sad because it obviously difficult to say goodbye to family for such a long time.

It is really strange because I honestly do not understand how quickly I got to this moment – about to leave to study abroad for five months. The University of Manchester application process is still fresh in my mind – I do not know whether that is because my twin sister recently applied to study abroad or because it really was not that long ago.

How it works is after officially getting accepted on to the programme by the University of Manchester:

1. You apply to the university you will be studying at (submitting a or a few bank statements to prove that you have the financial means to survive in the country of your university, a personal statement and selecting your course units).

2. After that you have to wait to get an acceptance letter from your university (which can take quite a while).

3. Then comes the most tedious part of the study abroad – the visa process. I do not know how long it took people going to other places, but for those of you studying in the US, I would say start the visa application as soon as you get your acceptance form as it is all done online and you cannot book a visa appointment without it being complete.

BEWARE you also have to pay for your visa before you can book an appoint at the US embassy and the SEVIS fee (one-off fee for people getting a specific type of visa).

The Visa appointment was the longest of them all – taking approximately 2hrs and 30mins to be seen. As I was waiting for so long it seems that they would go for a full interrogation… Wrong! When I was seen, they asked me a few standard questions and  in the space of two minutes my visa was approved. Annoying considering the time I waited. But I know that this can differ for people so all I can advise is go to the US embassy prepared – with all the relevant documents you need.

But enough about visas!

4. The most exciting part is booking your flight. You can arrive a few days before your mandatory university start date and explore. I decided to go to New York for a couple of days before heading to NCSU… You can hear more about New York in my next post!