As promised, the contributions will keep on coming! Have a read of Alice's experience studying abroad at Colorado State Uni...
When it came to choosing my firm choice of university after finishing college and going to open days, it wasn’t a matter of where I wanted to be in England or even how good the courses were. My primary reason for choosing Keele was its study abroad scheme.
When it came to the day when they revealed our allocations, I didn’t want to look at the email. The old pessimistic Alice just didn’t want to know. Eventually I looked, and there was that moment of sheer exhilaration and excitement, and then the tears came. I’d got my first choice at Colorado State University, USA! I phoned my parents. My dad works at a prison and I kept getting the wrong number and ending up crying/laughing down the phone to people I didn’t know on different wings of the prison until I finally got through to him.
The journey to CSU took around 30 hours in total, but that didn’t matter because for me, the planning and the journey is all part of the whole experience. I met some awesome people while travelling there on the plane and on the cab journey to campus. The evening I arrived my mentor took myself and an Australian guy I met in the cab for some food, and it lived up to the expectations. An absolutely HUGE pizza with way too many toppings and unlimited refillable drinks.
I saw so many awesome things during my time at CSU. The campus is right at the foot of the mountains which makes for a beautiful setting, and the town of Fort Collins is the most gorgeous little town I’ve ever been too, full of breweries, bars, and independent stores. I travelled into the mountains where there were beautiful little villages surrounded by lakes and ranches with huge expanses of open land. I went to California for Thanksgiving and visited LA for a weekend, which made a change from the ridiculous weather of Colorado. One week it was 20 degrees, the next it was -20. Seriously. -20. Walking to class in that temperature was actually physically painful.
Despite the horrendous winter, I didn’t want to leave. I stayed in Denver over Christmas and New Year with a friend I met over there which was an amazing experience in itself. I was ready to go home and start a new semester at Keele, but at the same time I just wanted to stay there forever. I remember getting to the airport and having to say goodbye to Emily, and it was just so hard. I cried nearly the whole first leg of my journey.
I eventually got back to Manchester at about 8am where my dad was waiting for me with a Budweiser (a welcome sight after a semester of barely drinking). Everything just seemed so tiny and quaint compared to the vast expanses of America.
The only downside was the cost. I won’t lie: studying abroad is expensive, especially in America where compulsory textbooks cost far too much than they should be allowed to charge (one of mine cost me $200!!!) and a shared bedroom costs nearly double the average price for a standard room in halls at Keele.
But you can’t put a price on experience. I know it’s a cheesy line but it’s true. I would have hated myself for years if I hadn’t gone because of money, because in the end it was worth every single penny and more.
I think the best thing about studying abroad is the people you meet. And not just the people from your host country. International orientation means you get to meet people from quite literally all over the world. By the end of the first couple of weeks I knew people from Egypt, Holland, Russia, Australia and loads of other places.
I feel like my personality has also dramatically changed since studying abroad. I’m much more open to new things, new places, and new people, and I’m just generally a much happier person. When I look back on who I was before I studied abroad, I do not see the same person at all. I’m so much more comfortable than I’ve ever been with who I am, and I 100% owe that to studying abroad.
P.S. I’ll warn you – travelling is ridiculously addictive.
A big thank you to Alice for sharing her experience and some great photos, hopefully for those who have decided to study abroad it's adding to your excitement!
*all photos belong to Alice and I have been given permission to use these on my blog