How it feels now

It has now been over 8 months since I came back from the USA. I must admit I was nervous once I touched down in the UK as I felt like I had come from another world. I had mixed reactions of coming back as I wasn’t ready to let go off the great times I experienced but at the same time I couldn’t wait to meet my family and friends.

I had an internship that began a week after landing, so I took the week to meet up with family and friends. I took time during the internship to study for my exams that I had to do as a first sit during August resit period as I had to miss the January exams since I was expected at UMass prior to the commencement of January exams. This meant that I had a very busy summer but it was worth it.

I remained in contact with friends in the UK whilst I was abroad and likewise, I remain in contact with friends I made in USA. We stay in touch through various social media. One of my friends came to visit me in the summer whilst another came in late November. I expect to host my roommate next summer. Needless to say, I made life-long friends at Umass.

After going through thorough assessments throughout the semester at Umass, I expected Manchester to be a bit relaxed but that was not the case as it was in first and second year. It comes to no surprise as it is final year. I experienced little difficulties in understanding the teachings as the gap in knowledge was bridged by courses that I took in America. These courses were carefully selected by my exchange adviser.

I have used my experience as an exchange to student to be a global mentor for three students from Korea, France and USA. Overall, the experience has changed me for the good. I have learnt about my limits and what makes me happy is that I did what I could in the USA and have no regrets. The only thing I want to do now, is to get on American Airlines!

Accomodation at UMass

Securing accommodation in a foreign country as expected seems worrying. However, after a week or two after arrival, you will realize it isn’t such a problem. People you meet will help you settle. If you are attending the second semester, you are likely to come across other exchange students who have been there from the start and may be willing to help as they understand your situation.

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Other side of the coin

You’ve heard this mantra so many times, but please allow me to say it one more time, ‘ All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ Apart from studying, I managed to do a little bit of travelling. I will share some photos from the experience.

Toronto
Skyline: Downtown Toronto as seen from Lake Ontario
Ottawa
Okay I get it! One of the Famous five who fought for Women rights in Canada in the 19th Century. They are remembered outside parliament buildings in Ottawa

 

Boston
Illuminated: One of Boston’s recognisable landmarks – Custom House Tower
White House
Powerful: Pretending to be a secret service personnel outside White House

 

Roadtrip
Break: Our vehicle demanded a rest in Georgia as it took six of us  on a Spring break road-trip from Massachusetts to Florida (1400 miles)
Seattle
Pointy: The space Needle in Seattle
NYC
Bright: Flash light too strong for some of us as we head to the top of the Empire State Building
Niagara
Mighty: Close up of Niagara falls from the Canadian side

I do have several photos from other cities too but I don’t want to spoil it for you. I have a feeling you are next in line!

From my part, North America, Thank you!

The not so similar life

It has been a couple of months now since I set foot on campus. I’ve been amazed by the difference in how UoM (University of Manchester) and UMass Amherst (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) are run. I have to say that one blogpost may not be able to portray my understanding and feeling but I will have a go.

First and foremost, I will avoid mentioning UMass Amherst Dining as I believe no blogger or blog post can do it justice. No wonder it has been rated in the top two for several years running. If you are in Manchester and wondering why the big deal about food, it may be helpful to know that most American Universities have their students living on campus so making food available within campus is their duty, unlike UoM where most students live off campus. I will start by stating the differences in academics.

ACADEMICS

You are starting a marathon and you hear ‘On your marks, get set, go!’ That’s how it feels from the first day through to the end. Homework and graded quizzes every week, midterms for every subject, essays and finals. There are no gaps between final exams. You finish your course today then you could either have your exams the next day or the week after the weekend. Unlike at UoM where you’ve got at least four weeks between end of class and start of exams (Christmas break and January exam & Easter break and May/June exams).

 

UoM (3 Semesters) UMass Amherst (1 semester)
Essays 4 4
Graded Quizzes 0 16
Exams/Finals 15 4
Midterm tests/exams 1 6
Presentations 2 0
Homework 2 22
Extra credit assignments 0 4

 

At UMass Amherst, a nutritionist student can take a Political Science class regardless of major or minor, a Physics student can take an English class. At UoM, an Economic students taking a Biology class will receive an email from her programme administrator with a short content ‘Please see me!’. The reason UMass students can and UoM students can’t could be because the latter spend three years at University while the former four years, therefore having an extra year to diversify your learning. I will leave it to you to suggest whether this is beneficial or not.

The Learning Resource Centre is run by students including the receptionist. Students are paid above the minimum wage to assist other students. This is additional to Teaching Assistants’ and Professors’ office hours. They are located on the 10th floor of the world’s tallest academic library – Du Bois Library.

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Du Bois Library in the background

 

LIFE AROUND CAMPUS

Unlike UoM, UMass Amherst is the heart and soul of the city. One resident of Amherst said to me that when the semester ends, Amherst becomes a ghost town. I must admit that UMass Amherst does a lot to make their students feel at home since it is situated in arguably a remote area far away from a main city or shopping complex. Speaking of shopping complexes, the University does take advantage of students as they overprice their products at the University’s Store. The store is probably 15 times larger than UoM’s and sells products from nails cutters to MacBooks.

Events are regularly held in order to help keep the students at ease since there isn’t a lot going on other than the regular flat and fraternity parties on Friday nights nd weekend.  This semester there were performances from Tinashe, Fetty Wap, Jason Derulo among others.

Student employment is quite impressive. Through an email, the UMass’ Human resource department wrote to me that 9884 students (Graduates and undergraduates) work for the university in capacities such as dining hall attendants, security personnel at halls and receptionists at the University’s hotel. UMASS student firefighters help the local fire department. Another interesting fact is that UMASS students drive the local buses that take students around university and town. My roommate drives one of these buses and says that other than being a good paying job it is enjoyable too.

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One of the buses driven by students

Sport participation is something like I’ve never seen before. As a result of sport participation,  students frequently end up not undertaking some of their assessments. However, their assessments are rescheduled since sport participation qualifies to be a valid mitigating circumstance. Lacrosse is by far the most popular sport. The free gym which is made available by the University helps keep the athletes and other students fit.

It was quite a busy semester but it has now come to an end. Needless to say that I’ve definitely experienced a different perspective of life.

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I remembered the sky is blue just as I was leaving

MANCHESTER to MASSACHUSETTS

Arriving abroad: the first few days of my placement.

 

Tewodros (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

While handing in my application for the Exchange Program in December 2014, I was wondering why we should have to apply so early considering that I’ve only just arrived at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in January 2016.

UMASS.jpg
Welcome to UMass!

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