Maryland’s lessons

It’s been a hectic semester in the States, but what kind of ChemE degree will it be if it isn’t so? Not to forget, my grades contributes towards my degree and are not a pass fail grade. Arriving in London at 9am and being asked for my passport in the most British accent you could ever imagine, I chuckled and told myself, “Joyce, you’re back in England”. It was then that I felt my American study abroad experience had ended. It feels weird and good to be back in England, meeting familiar faces and places.

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Expectations vs Reality of Studying Abroad

I’m almost done with the last set of homework! Phew. I’ve been occupied with the never ending weekly assignments and semester projects. Back in May when I received my acceptance letter from the University of Maryland and ever since then, I started listing the things I wanted to do throughout my fall semester, but lots of things turn out otherwise. Here are some of them:

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To study abroad?

Joyce Cheng, Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland at College Park.

This post is written more for Engineering students, but more from a Chemical Engineering student’s point of view. 

If you’re considering whether to drop by the tents outside of University place this Tuesday, you definitely should! Leave your Thermos books for an hour or so, and speak to the students behind the tables. It’ll give you a new perspective of what you could do with your Chem Eng degree (:

IMG_1540拷貝.jpg‘When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable’ – Clifton Fadiman

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First thoughts

It feels so surreal to step foot onto American soil. It was a far-fetched dream. A delayed flight turned my 22-hour long journey to Washington DC into 2 days. Yes, 2 days. 48 hours! (I was travelling from Malaysia). It took me a day or two to adapt to the right time zone, get accustomed with the large campus. I dedicated my first week to sort out admin stuff, from looking at opening a bank account to getting registered for classes on the student system.

I thought leaving Malaysia would mean I’ll escape from the 30°C heat, but it turned out otherwise. It has only been a week or so since I got here and I’ve gotten 10 shades tanner (No, I’m not joking and exaggerating).

McKieldin Mall (left) and one of the residence halls (right)

The sun above my head doesn’t stop me from exploring the campus with new acquaintances and seeking some advice from seniors. Familiarizing the campus is slightly challenging as most (if not all) the building are similar. The one building that caught my attention was the gym. It has an indoor track and field, gyms, a weight room, couple of badminton/basketball courts, and two indoor swimming pools which has two 3m springboard diving boards! That is how large it is. Oh, and did I mention that all students have free access to it?

The size of my dorm room was unexpectedly huge. There was more than enough space for my roommate and I. As I was staying in a dorm, the school made it mandatory for students to purchase a dining plan. It’s an all-you-can eat buffet, with various cuisine, from American to Asian food. It sounds like there’s plentiful choices, but a couple of my friends and I got bored of it after a week or two.

Dining hall where students have their meals (left) and the STAMP Student Union (right)

The people I’ve met along the way have been really friendly. As much as I wanted to explore more of Maryland, head over to DC, etc, classes had to start. Classes held here were slightly different from what I’ve attended in Manchester. I’d talk more about it in the next post.