Fun and Travel

By Maddy Taylor (University of Maryland, USA).

While I did work very hard at Maryland, and it was occasionally difficult to balance work and play, I had a great opportunity to explore the US while on exchange, and explore I did! I think an exchange really teaches you to seize the day, it feels like such a waste to sit around watching Netflix all day and so I’ve become much more proactive with my time. As a result I have had some awesome experiences while I’ve been here.

Sports at American College are a must, and so we attended a few basketball games at Maryland’s incredible Comcast Centre.

Comcast center at UMD
Comcast centre at UMD
Go Terps!
Go Terps!

We explored DC, and obviously saw The White House. It was great being in College Park because of its proximity to DC and the ease of getting in on the metro! I’m sure I’ll appreciate my short trip into London much more when I get home.

The White House!
The White House!

I did an 8k and a 5k run down in Virginia Beach with my family while I was here, one was for St Patricks’ day and the other was a colour run – so fun!

Shamrock 8k in Virginia Beach with my family
Shamrock 8k in Virginia Beach with my family
Colour Me Rad 5k with Annabel and family down in Virginia Beach
Colour Me Rad 5k with Annabel and family down in Virginia Beach

I visited Baltimore twice, such an interesting city with so much history and so many beautiful sights. It also didn’t hurt that we had a local tour-guide to escort us around (thanks Annie!). That is another great thing about studying abroad, and in American in particular, your friends will be scattered everywhere!

Baltimore rooftop with Annabel and Annie
Baltimore rooftop with Annabel and Annie

My first big trip of the semester was to Philadelphia, and although it was still pretty freezing while we were there, it was great to see the city and explore.

Philadelphia! Freedom, Liberty and of course Rocky!
Philadelphia! Freedom, Liberty and of course Rocky!

And then Spring Break rolled around and of course I had to jet off to the Bahamas! This was such an incredible experience, if a little strange to be in 30degree heat while it was snowing back in Maryland. And there wasn’t much of an opportunity to show off our tan when we got back, but the satisfaction of being an English Rose (nice way of saying very pale) and brown in March made up for it!

Breezes, Bahamas
Breezes, Bahamas
Weather Difference - College Park to Bahamas
Weather Difference – College Park to Bahamas. And it never even rained!
Snorkelling with Sharks and Atlantis!
Snorkelling with Sharks and Atlantis!

And then I had my 20th Birthday in College Park and my wonderful friends came for dinner with me at our campus restaurant.

Birthday meal at Adele's
Birthday meal at Adele’s

Of course what would an exchange in America be without a trip to New York City?! We saw three plays in three days (Newsies, Once and Of Mice and Men), got into the MoMa for free, ran into President Obama and chilled out in Central park in the sun, could it get much better?

New York - Central Park, Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building
New York – Central Park, Top of the Rock, Of Mice and Men and The Empire State Building
Times Square!
Times Square!

And then Annabel and I took a trip to the theme park Busch Gardens, which was simply incredible.

Locked up in 'England'
Locked up in ‘England’

I also joined my extended family in Kiawah Island in South Carolina for (American) mother’s day and a wonderful few days of relaxing and amazing food.

Lunch with the family
Lunch with the family

And now I’m finished my exams and set to spend almost my entire summer by the beach and working by the oceanfront. I’m so so sad that my semester studying in Maryland is over, but at least my time in America is not! Now I’m going to run outside and get a tan!

(P.S. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who made my travels and semester possible – all of my exchange coordinators, my parents, my extended family in America, and of course all of the wonderful friends I’ve made in Maryland (yes, and you Annabel). You all know who you are – so thank you!)

Visiting Philadelphia

By Hamish Russell (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA).

Spring break was a really nice change of pace for me; having already done the clubbing sort of holiday with my UK-based friends I was more interested in hearing the tales that others brought back, and staying clear of the fray myself. So, while many of my friends from UMass headed to Cancún for the week, I caught my flight from Boston to Philadelphia. As soon as I landed I was thrown into the culture of a new city, with new terms for seemingly trivial things replacing the new words I’ve become accustomed to while in Massachusetts. I was told off for being difficult with the security people at Philadelphia Airport for insisting I didn’t have any tennis shoes with me, but it turned out that any form of sports shoe is known as a tennis shoe across Pennsylvania – which I did have. Even sandwiches have different names, ‘grinders’ in Massachusetts and ‘hoagies’ in Pennsylvania; any food confusion was avoided however as my uncle was keen to use me as an excuse to break the strict diet rules that my aunt tries to make him follow – making Philly Cheese Steaks our first choice for lunch.

While staying with my aunt and uncle, I visited the town of Gettysburg, the site of the US Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg. You’re allowed to drive around the battlefield without a tour guide, stopping at points of interest crucial to the outcome of the battle. While similar to visiting First and Second World War battlefields, this site has a different feel – you can easily visualise each attack and movement.

View from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
View from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

After Gettysburg, I visited the city of Philadelphia itself. The National Constitution Centre, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Reading Terminal Market were my main stops. Reading Terminal Market is Philadelphia’s answer to London’s Borough Market, with a plethora of stalls, stands and choices. However my lasting memory of it will, unfortunately, be being knocked from behind into a small girl sending her slice of pizza flying… I apologised to almost the entire market before buying the girl and her brother some replacement pizza before leaving as quickly as possible, my face burning red with embarrassment. Needless to say my other stops are much less painful in the memory, and all incredibly interesting.

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia
DiNic's, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia
DiNic’s, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent much of the remainder of the week in the safe confines of the golf course, trying not to humiliate myself too much or lose too many balls to the hazards. Very few of the rules of golf were followed, and the rounds were dominated by stops at the various refreshment stands placed around the course and small wagers on holes – meaning scores were patchy to say the least, but the rounds were huge fun.

Getting back to UMass at the end was good fun, being able to catch up with people after a week away and hear their stories, especially when the first one told was that one of the guys was missing in action having been asked to get off a plane in North Carolina on the way back from Cancún… Still not 100% sure about what happened with that.