Fall break, Thanksgiving and Remembering Why You Chose to Study Abroad

By Imogen Henry-Campbell, Case Western Reserve University, USA

As the end of the semester approaches, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would reflect on the incredible experiences I have gained from studying abroad.

It is easy to forget why you chose to study abroad when you doing the third round of midterms and have spent endless evenings in the library. I was feeling slightly lost, terribly homesick and unmotivated until I realized how lucky I am to have experienced new things and to have travelled around the world.

Over the last month alone I have managed to travel to Toronto, see Niagara Falls, experience a traditional American Thanksgiving and walk around downtown Chicago. I will try to share some of the incredible things I have done and encourage people to make the most of studying abroad:

Continue reading “Fall break, Thanksgiving and Remembering Why You Chose to Study Abroad”

Reflections on Studying Abroad (just another excuse to keep talking about my year abroad, really)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So this is my eighth and final blog (try not to get too upset) and its basically just a short one to talk about what it’s like being back in Manchester, post-Illinois.

Continue reading “Reflections on Studying Abroad (just another excuse to keep talking about my year abroad, really)”

End of exchange reflections (penned somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean when I really should have been trying to sleep)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So 10 months later and I’m permanently back in the land of real bacon, correct spellings, day/month/year and people who know how to make a proper cup of tea (I’ve had 12 already). For my final blog, instead of getting all sappy and emotional about how amazing this year has been I thought I’d finish off by sharing some of the worldly wisdom I’ve acquired since August. Here are a few of my top tips and insider hints for studying abroad at the University of Illinois, navigating the USA in general, and for all of those things you think will never happen, but actually did:

(interspersed with various photos from UIUC post-spring break and summer travels)

Continue reading “End of exchange reflections (penned somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean when I really should have been trying to sleep)”

Spring Break Travels (or Cuba: Fun yet Maddeningly Frustrating)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

“Fun but maddeningly frustrating” is the line used to describe Cuba on the back of the Lonely Planet Guide and by the end of our second day in the country, it had pretty much become our mantra for the trip.

If you’d asked me a year ago where I thought I’d be spending my spring break while on exchange in the USA I’d probably have said Mexico, or Florida, or some other typical location known for its beaches and partying. Then one day someone mentioned off-hand, “Guys, wouldn’t it be hilarious if we went to Cuba for spring break?”.

I’ll admit there was something enticing about the idea of, while on our American exchange, spending our break somewhere that Americans can’t actually go (at least not just for tourism reasons) and after triple checking with the international office at Illinois and various embassies that, yes, we would be allowed back into the country after having gone to Cuba, our spring break plans really started to take off.

Continue reading “Spring Break Travels (or Cuba: Fun yet Maddeningly Frustrating)”

Semester Two Update (or its midterm season again so seems like the perfect time to start writing another blog)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

I’m now five weeks into my second semester here at UIUC, so it’s probably a good a time as any to talk a bit about what it’s like being back on campus, what I’ve been up to so far, what’s different about this semester and what’s very much the same.

Continue reading “Semester Two Update (or its midterm season again so seems like the perfect time to start writing another blog)”

Academic differences in the USA (because it’s not called “study” abroad for nothing)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So now that I’m officially half-way through my exchange and no longer in the midst of the panic and stress of final exams I thought it would be a good time to take a step back and talk about the actual “study” part of studying abroad. Continue reading “Academic differences in the USA (because it’s not called “study” abroad for nothing)”

Thanksgiving Travels (or the real reason I went on study abroad in the first place)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So here it is. After 13 weeks, 8 midterms, 9 lab reports and countless homeworks and surprise quizzes we finally got a week off. Thanksgiving break; the first decent length of time I’ve had to escape Illinois and actually see some of the country I’ve been living in for the past three months. As any of you who are friends with me on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat will know I definitely made the most of the (much needed) time off as me and a couple of other fellow Brits set off on an East coast adventure I like to call “One Week, Four Cities”.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving Travels (or the real reason I went on study abroad in the first place)”

Arrival reflections (how temporary housing turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

Actually that’s not totally true but I’ll get to that later…

Continue reading “Arrival reflections (how temporary housing turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me)”

A Geographer’s Journey to Berkeley

By Peter Rowan (University of California Berkeley)

And suddenly I’m here. UC Berkeley, a global centre of academia; a place of sun, sea and hippy movements; and right next to the beautiful San Francisco. It hardly seemed real this evening as I ate pizza and gazed over Berkeley’s rooftops toward a misty Golden Gate Bridge, framed by a fiery pacific sunset. But here I am.

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Sunset over Berkeley

The time leading up to flight day was rather surreal. I have travelled before, I have worked in in India and Colombia and backpacked around Europe, but this time it’s very different. I am here for much longer, an entire year! And this time I am part of a University community, with academic responsibilities in one of the best (and therefore most challenging) universities in the world. Suffice to say I had a good few butterflies in my belly, and after being left dog-tired after an internship at the European Parliament, it was like walking around in a day dream. But before I knew it I was saying long goodbyes to family and jumping on that 12 hour flight.

Ready to Go!

Ready to Go!

I really love flights, its that limbo, in-between time where one can make the transition from one life to the next. This one was stunning, and really sparked my Geographer’s imagination. I enjoyed panoramic views of Scotland and its Hebrides about two hours before we crossed the Greenland ice sheet. It started with clusters of enormous glaciers, which were soon dwarfed by the gigantic mountain ranges torn apart by cracked glaciers. Yet soon enough all of that was swallowed by the great ice sheet, so bright that I had to close the window shutter. When I reopened it three hours later I was greeted by the endless empty wilderness of the Canadian Northern Territories, potted with turquoise lakes. I gazed out of the window as the Rockies rose up with their snow-capped volcanoes, and just as we crossed into California I spotted forest fires raging on the mountains below. Then soon enough we were descending, and I felt ready to take on the US.

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Volcanoes, Canadian planes and Greenland

Very jet lagged, I took a taxi through San Francisco and over the bay to Berkeley. It is absolutely gorgeous here. Its sunny, really sunny with a mixture of the Modernistic-Spanish Colonial type architecture and a pinewood landscape that makes it feel like a cooler version of Italy. Berkeley has one very cool vibe going on, with guys shooting round on skateboards, turkeys, squirrels and deer wandering round campus, lots of green spaces to chill out in, a row of cafes of very diverse cuisine and of course Jack Kerouac’s old Jazz and Rock haunts just across the bay. And the people? Well they literally bounce with positivity… I have a funny feeling I’m going to love it here.

Though still jet lagged, I am very excited now. I move into my dorms tomorrow, I have my orientation in two days and much more importantly I have my (American) football season pass. It all kicks off in three day’s time with sports and student fairs, Fraternity rushes and classes in a week’s time. I’m planning on going all-out on this US college thing, and I will keep you posted!

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A view of San Francisco and the very shady Alcatraz

 

Pre-departure reflections (getting ready for American football, cheerleading and Chipotle)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So it’s less than a week before I set off to the USA for my year abroad and I’m currently sat printing out every single email I have ever received from my partner university (as per my mum’s instructions) and trying to sum up my feelings about going.

Continue reading “Pre-departure reflections (getting ready for American football, cheerleading and Chipotle)”

Working Abroad in the USA

By Nicole Rankine (University of Toronto, Canada)

Hi everyone!

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So, whilst my semester in Toronto has sadly come to an end, the adventure has continued. Since leaving Canada I have found work in San Francisco for a marketing internship. This has so far been an incredible and valuable experience, though admittedly a little daunting at times. To help you decide on whether working abroad during the summer is right for you, I will go through some crucial points worth considering.

1. How do you find a job?

Whilst you may find the idea of working abroad attractive, it can be hard to find the right job, and this can be made even harder by the fact that you will need to sort out a working visa. Unfortunately, I am unable to comment too much on this aspect of working abroad, as due to the fact that I was born in New York, I am technically an American citizen, and didn’t need to go through the process. However, whilst searching for work here I did find that there were many options available for foreign students wanting to work in America. For instance, one of the websites that had caught my eye was called ‘InterExchange’. This site looked great, as it offered jobs in a variety of businesses and pretty much made the whole job-searching process a whole lot easier to handle. If you are looking for a job in a specific field, and don’t mind dealing with the process of getting hold of a work visa, then I would suggest that you start searching for your target businesses as soon as possible making sure to contact as many as you can. In the harsh world of business a lot of companies will fail to respond, so it’s better to contact too many rather than too few. It is also important to perfect a resume (CV) and cover letter, just to make it harder for them to say ‘no’.

2. What are the struggles?

Now, in all honesty, working abroad is far tougher than studying abroad, especially if, like me, you decide to find the work independently. Here, you do not have the support you would find at university, whether this means teachers advising you on what to do, or the company of fellow students. At times, this can feel quite scary. Furthermore, after already spending one or two semesters away from family, friends, and everything familiar, the extra summer abroad can lead to major home sickness at times.

3. Is working abroad necessary?

Overall, I can say that this experience has already been so valuable to me. My time working in America has opened my eyes to life in the ‘real-world’, and even if at times it may be hard, I feel that I have grown stronger and more independent because of it. Plus, as a keen traveller, I’d be lying if I told you that I haven’t enjoyed exploring North America, and I now feel confidant in travelling or working elsewhere in the world.

Nicole Rankine

Manchester beanie takes on North America

By Ros Harwood (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada)

To finish up my blog posts about my year abroad, I have some photos to share giving a snapshot of the five weeks I spent travelling to mark the end of my year abroad. It was a fantastic trip and I ticked off a lot of places I have always wanted to visit! I attempted to mark each place with a Manchester beanie picture. Travel is such a key part of study abroad, make the most of the opportunities!

Canada

Toronto > Rocky Mountains (Banff and Jasper) > Vancouver

Moraine Lake - Lake Louise, Rocky Mountains
Moraine Lake – Lake Louise, Rocky Mountains
Jasper, Rocky Mountains
Jasper, Rocky Mountains
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Second Beach, Vancouver
Second Beach, Vancouver

USA:

Seattle > Portland > Yosemite & Sierra National Parks > Death Valley > Las Vegas > Phoenix & Grand Canyon, Arizona > San Diego > Los Angeles > Pacific Coast Highway > San Francisco

Pike Place Market, Seattle
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Washington State Rose Garden, Portland
Washington State Rose Garden, Portland

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Yosemite & Sierra National Parks

Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Visiting another Manchester student abroad, Phoenix
Visiting another Manchester student abroad, Phoenix
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Ocean Beach, San Diego
Ocean Beach, San Diego
At the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles
At the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles

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Driving the Pacific Coast Highway: Santa Barbara > Big Sur > Carmel > Monterey, California

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

And that’s a wrap on my year abroad! Coming home has been a small novelty, but quickly got boring. Make the most of it!