8 THINGS YOU ONLY LEARN FROM STUDYING IN THE US

American flag flying in the wind

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.

Belated Reflections About A Great Year

Firstly I am very sorry about the lateness of this post. I have only recently returned to England and I thought I would (belatedly) share some reflections about my period abroad. I was really supposed to do this around the time I was saying goodbye to NC State but I didn’t for a few reasons. Firstly this would have clashed with exams, goodbyes, last minute plans and packing. All of which at the time are excellent forms or procrastination. Then once I had said goodbye to North Carolina and begun a few months of travelling I was frankly just extremely busy. But finally, and probably the closest to being the true reason; I really didn’t want to write it. Even thinking about writing that goodbye blog at the time really brought home the fact that I was going to be saying goodbye to that great place after an amazing year. So even thinking about it bummed me out let alone actually having to think about it and write it all down. But now there is some space between me and that event and I’ve made it back home safe and sound lets give it a go.

But where to begin? I guess firstly I would just recommend that anyone, if they get the chance to study abroad, take it. You will meet great people, get to try all kinds of things that you would never get the chance to normally and at the very least, you’ll almost certainly get a year of better weather than Manchester! But seriously, you will have a fantastic time wherever you go. I’ll be honest, NC State was hardly my first choice when applying to go to the USA but having been there for a year I’m looking back and really questioning why I wanted to go anywhere else. I really got everything I wanted form my American university experience; college sports, red cups, good weather, amusing southern accents and tones of amazing places to visit both in North Carolina and well beyond. On this note, I guess something else I will be saying to anyone going abroad to the USA is travel, travel, travel! And don’t just stick to New York, Chicago and California. There is so much to see and enjoy in that vast and varied country and I think the places I would most recommend are ones that most do not get to see such as Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. And do not be worried about Visa time constraints, a quick trip into Canada and suddenly you have a full 90 days at your disposal to go where you like.

I guess perhaps on a slightly more serious reflective note it is time to talk about my thoughts on this year from an academic stand point. Honestly I think I’ve probably come away from this year slightly disillusioned with the university system here in the UK. Maybe its just that the style of teaching and learning suited me better over there but I see far more positives to the University system there than I do here, although admittedly this is heavily counter balanced by the tuition fees they pay. Before going there one of the things I was most nervous about was what I had been told about the fact that I would need to participate in class for my grade. However this is far less scary when it isn’t in vast lectures, the norm here but extremely uncommon in the USA; you don’t feel like you’re standing out as much and so it isn’t the great fear that it is here. Certainly I believe this new-found comfort with speaking up should at least help me with tutorials when I return for my final year in Manchester. The greater interaction between professors and students is also something I feel I will miss when back in Manchester. I got to know many of my professors very well over there and it helps you feel more comfortable in discussions and particularly with asking questions. This is not to say the professors at Manchester have ever been unfriendly or particularly unapproachable, but just the way our interactions are set up here makes me and I feel the majority of students as well, utilize them less. Looking for positives though I hope that my time abroad will encourage me to better get to know and utilise their expertise in my final year. Overall I feel I have grown this year. The American system has helped me get better used to handling lots of work simultaneously and prioritizing and organizing my workload so that things do not build up or accidentally left to the last minute. I just hope I can maintain these good habits back in England where it will often seem like less of a necessity as I will have fewer pieces of work (even if they are all going to take longer and are more important individually)

Overall though, I am oh so glad I was able to have this opportunity. I wouldn’t change the last year for anything! It was amazing, both in the halls, the university and the USA as a whole!

Go Wolfpack

By Chris Tenant-Flowers.

Ok, so I’ve been here In Raleigh North Carolina for about two weeks now so here are some of my first impressions:

I think the most obvious thing for me to mention is the whole school spirit thing. I was told to expect this but it has still caught me off guard. People love their school and take great pride in going there and it is no different here at NC State. I’m not saying we in Manchester or England generally don’t take pride in our universities but not like here. You may see the odd UoM hoodie in Manchester but here genuinely one in every 6 or so people is almost certainly wearing bright red blazoned with NCSU, Go Pack!, Wolfpack, NC State, anti University of North Carolina (UNC) sentiments or some other school related message. And it’s not just clothing, School sports are a BIG deal here. I was expecting this but just in case others weren’t aware of this I thought I’d share it. literally thousands will turn up to every football, basketball, baseball, etc. game to cheer on the team…and for the tailgating which I will explain later once I have experienced it first hand. There are also wolf statues on campus. everything that can be named something Wolfpack related or coloured bright red is. people long since graduated from the university or parents of those here have NCSU stickers on their cars and wear their t-shirts. shops like Target and Walmart also sell NCSU clothing. Basically you know you are in NC State territory wherever you go.

The weather has to be mentioned as another major change. there is sun and lots of it but we do get that in England…occasionally. it’s the humidity that really makes it seem so different. just the fact that it is so humid here really does make it seem very different. There may appear to be so much that is similar to England but every time you step outside you are reminded that this is not definitely not England.

Then there are also the facilities for students. the dining halls here are not like in the UK. they are all you can eat and are open continuously from the morning until the evening, not just set hours when food is served like in catered halls. The gym or rather whole sports complex is completely free to use, including things like rock climbing walls, swimming pools, sports fields and equipment rental. as well as this there are just quite a few cool things on campus. as well as the aforementioned  statues, there’s the ‘free expression tunnel’ where anyone can come and spray paint leading to some pretty awesome and ever-changing pictures and a random but fun set of Acoustic Mirrors (thanks Wikipedia).

Finally room-mates, I thought this would be kind of weird but it isn’t and most people seem to get on really well with theirs. I think I still prefer the setup I had in oak House in my first year at Manchester but it isn’t as awful as I had imagined it might be.

Anyway, i shall wrap this up here as it’s getting quite long but hopefully I’ll be able to update you all soon on life in North Carolina. Chris

p.s sorry for the lack of pictures, my camera has vanished so I’m going to go and buy a new one later today