My First Few Weeks at Mizzou!

By Becky L, University of Missouri-Columbia, United States of America

With the first week of classes coming to an end, I decided now would be a good time to introduce myself and my Study Abroad University! My name is Becky and I’m a second year Biomedical Sciences student, studying for the semester at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Initially I was apprehensive about spending 5 months in the Midwest, but I’ve acclimatised very quickly, mainly thanks to the amazing friends that I have met!

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Arizona State – A look back on ASU

I feel some things are just rightly assumed about the long-run advantages of doing a year abroad – yes you become more cultured, yes you’ll gain confidence, yes you’ll view life differently, yes there’s new opportunities… but what actually are some examples of these?

A (by no means exhaustive) post on how my year abroad impacted my life.

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New York, New York; The Iconic Landmarks

By Eleanor, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

It’s no secret that one of the main reasons I chose Rutgers for my year abroad was due to its vicinity to one of the most famous cities in the world, compared to other destinations in the US offered by Manchester. I feel I made a great choice. My apartment at Rutgers was literally one minute’s walk from New Brunswick train station, perfect for someone like me who tends to run fashionably late. From here, New Jersey Transit trains run directly to New York Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, taking between half an hour to 50 minutes. For the price of dinner and a cocktail ($28, around £22) I could get a return train to the city that never sleeps. Here’s my experiences at some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

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Spring Break in New Orleans: my time in the “Big Easy”

By Eleanor, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

One thing I knew about the American college experience was the concept of “spring break”. While in the UK we have a break from university around Easter, US colleges have an earlier break period around early to mid-March. This is often an excuse to travel, relax, and party at destinations domestically and internationally. I had friends in the US travelling to Florida, California, and even abroad to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. For me, I had one place in mind; New Orleans, Louisiana.

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An Ode to New Jersey Weather

By Eleanor, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

When people have asked me “How is America?” one thing I always mention is the weather, in typical Brit fashion. However, I feel justified in this as during my time studying abroad, I have braced all temperatures, and at a more leafy university, found a new appreciation for the outdoors.

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CHI-TOWN

By Benjamin Spencer, Arizona State University, USA

Chicago – making the most of being stateside!

I hadn’t even considered the fact that I was in a whole new country with 50 states to explore before arriving in Arizona, but now I see why so many students pick to move stateside.

Chicago, or as my friends exclusively refer, CHICAGO BABY! is a truly magnificent city, especially for those looking for some rest bite from the culture of the West Coast.

THINGS I LOVED:

The price.

We picked up flights for only £56 direct return from Phoenix and sharing Airbnbs with a large group saw 3 nights’ accommodation over the weekend only come to about £50 each.

The skyscrapers.

Chicago boasts quite the architectural prowess. Everywhere you look is a huge skyscraper and each is just as impressive as the other. We visited Trump tower (it was free!) upto the 20th floor and used a lesser-known ‘hack’ to avoid paying the $30 charge at the Willis Tower. If one is looking for a view up in the clouds of Chicago then go no further than the The Hancock Tower, once inside there is a bar on the 95th floor which is free to access and provides a stunning 360º of Chi-town.

The food.

Oh me, oh my. If you’re a foodie then Chicago is the place to be. Whilst living off the diet I consumed during my weekend would leave you with some type of clogged arteries or heart disease, it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t ‘pig out’ when there. I recommend two places specifically for the two key ‘traditional’ foods of Illinois: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria for deep-pan pizza ‘pie’ and Luke’s Italian Beef for a classic steak sandwich. Both of these will leave you in a much-appreciated food coma.

Also, they have Nandos which is really cool.

THINGS I LIKED:

The Bean.

I liked the bean, it was cool and attracted a large crowd, which is kinda funny considering it is a bean.

The Parks.

The north of the city has numerous parks, particularly in Lincoln Park, which also has a free zoo. Views of the skyline are superb from here and it’s nice to be able to be at one with nature in a city that has a concrete jungle vibe at times.

The Shops.

Some of the shops we visited reminded me of those we find on Oxford or Bond Street in London. Equally, as Christmas was around the corner (I visited in mid-November) there was a lot of decorations already up, which always puts you in a good mood 😎.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

The Metro.

There are many tales about the Chicago metro, and whilst you might think that they’re overblown, they’re not really. To put it lightly, there are a lot of ‘dodgy blokes’ lurking about and I wouldn’t want to travel alone at night on it (I’m a rugby prop for reference!). We had to get an Uber for our flight back thanks to a stabbing at a station up the line. During daylight it’s fine and a cost-effective method over taxis – so use this service at your own discretion.

The Contemporary Art Museum.

I love art and history a lot and often visit the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester Gallery, Manchester Museum, IWM North Museum and the like, but this museum just annoyed me. If it was free then fair enough, but the CMA costs $12 as a student and $15 full fare (I think) but it’s not really worth it. We completed the museum in about 45mins and that was on a go-slow… wouldn’t recommend it. Avoid.

This concludes this little summary of my trip to Chi-town, up next? Accommodation advice for ASU.

Trials and Tribulations of International Travel

By Eleanor, Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA)

As it tends to do, the Christmas holidays came and went in a flash, and it was time to return to New Jersey. But would we (and our belongings) make it there in one piece?

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AMERICA RATED.

Well, it has been a while since my last study abroad blog, a lot has happened, the main one being that I am no longer abroad. Now, I am contemplating my time on Rocky Top, Tennessee, underneath the grey skies of Manchester.

In America, I visited 5 cities in total. To try and tell you how different the culture is over there, I decided to review each city for 7 seperate categories. It’s a simple idea. Maybe the rankings might inspire you to take a trip to the Southeast of the USA.

Each city will be ranked for: Food, music, safety, bars, price, stuff to do and architecture.

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Home Comforts When You’re Far From Home

By Eleanor Gaskill-Jones, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA

It’s no secret that one of the hardest things about studying abroad is the homesickness; it’s one of the first things the Go Abroad team warned us about as we prepared our applications.

No-one thinks it will happen to them, and I certainly didn’t. I’m a big girl, I thought, as I packed my life into 2 suitcases and waved goodbye to a grey Manchester Airport Terminal 2. The sight of the Manhattan skyline as we landed into Newark Airport smugly reassured my confidence, and I was certain I could handle being 3357 miles from home. How hard could it be? It’s only America, they speak English and have the same TV shows as us!

How wrong I was.

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Before Leaving…

It’s been a while since I last thought about moving to the States. I was 17 when I decided to become an exchange student in a Canadian high school, and since then, I thought my experience abroad was over. But now, once again, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel, to discover a new culture, and to get to know myself a bit better. Isn’t this extraordinary?

In eight days I’ll be on the plane. Destination? Phoenix. No turning back. Me, my luggage, and all my expectations and fears. What if I won’t like my housemates? What if I won’t like the courses? But c’mon, think about all the opportunities you’ll have, all the friends you’ll make. You’ve always watched High School Musical, and you’ve always been dreaming of those lockers, the cheerleaders, the football team! There is more to gain than to lose!

Going abroad is one of those experiences that simply form your person. it teaches you to expect the unexpected! Every day is a different story, and you just have to trust the journey and try out all you can, with no judgment. Eventually, you’ll find out that it’s all you’ve always been waiting for! That for how tough it can get, you’ll always get up and get back in the game stronger, because it’s your game and no one can win it but you.

I’m ready for this, I can do it. What about you?

Coming Home

Hello all!

I am officially back in Manchester, and back into my studies back at uni here. I thought I’d write a little blog about how it feels to be back studying in Manchester, when i’ve not been back here for quite some time!

In many ways, it feels like I never left Manchester. Memories of my time spent in Arizona almost feel like some kind of distant dream, like something that never actually happened. It’s hard to believe that a few months ago my average week looked like sunbathing by my dorms pool, preparing for a weekend away in a cool city, and of course a few classes in between all of that stuff. Now, I’m back in the North of England, where rainy days are commonplace, and there isn’t an outdoor pool in sight. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. I adore the city of Manchester, and I always have. My friends are here, my family are only a short drive away and England is simply just home, where everything makes sense and is familiar again.

However, it is hard to adjust back to life in Manchester, and life in a British university, after spending time in an American institution. The academic work in Manchester is a whole different ball game to the American way of doing things, and it is a little daunting to have to adjust to the level of reading I have here once again! Gone are my days of small intimate classes where we discuss and learn together, and everyone waits for my input just to hear my accent. I’m back into my lecture theatres of 200 people, where I frantically type on my laptop to take in all of the information that my highly-esteemed lectures throw at me. Then there’s the dissertation, the giant research project that i’m expected to embark upon soon. It’s certainly a process, to adjust back to life here again.

Irrespective of all of that however, I wouldn’t change the experiences I had abroad for anything. I learnt so much about myself, and about a new culture whilst I was away that I feel like my whole life is different now. I am now that slightly annoying friend that brings up America every chance I get, or somehow finds a way to weave it back into the conversation. Every little part of life reminds me of being in the US, and all of the experiences that I had there. I think those 6 months in Arizona will be formative for the rest of my life.

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catching up with friends during freshers week!

Being back in Manchester isn’t all doom and gloom in reality. I’m catching up with friends, getting back into my societies and church, and exploring this vibrant city again with a whole new appreciation for it. I had my third and final (yikes) freshers week, and made the most of that with amazing friends. Plus, I am loving my new modules this term, and am being taught by some of my favourite professors at Manchester. Ultimately, life is different, but life is good. If you’re considering studying abroad, I’d encourage you to just do it. It will be an incredible experience, it will change your life, and you won’t regret it.

This is me signing off here for the final time, thanks for joining me on this journey, I have loved documenting my experience through this blog.

Gabi xoxo