I've had some posts going dusty in my drafts for a long while, and I've been feeling really guilty about it too! Last year I asked a few people to contribute to my blog about their first year, second year or their year studying abroad and quite a few people got involved. However, with the editing process and third year work piling up fast they've remained in my drafts for far too long, and I'd like to say a huge apology to those whose contributions I have yet to publish. Rather than let them sit in my drafts any longer I'd really like to share the memories from those who were kind enough to write something about their experience. So to kick off my 'study abroad' series is Holly:
It sounds cliché to say that studying abroad changed my life but it’s true so I’m going to say it anyway.
In four and a half months I gained independence, a voice, some unforgettable memories and many lifelong friends. For me, the decision to study abroad was easy. Before I had even got to Keele I knew I wanted to study abroad in America and I chose North Carolina as I have family who have studied in the state before. Leaving England was so exciting I didn’t really have time to be nervous and, while I missed my family, I was only homesick in the last few weeks when I got ill and could have done with a hug from my mum! All I could think about was all the amazing new people I was going to meet and all the places I was going to visit. One of the weirdest parts of studying abroad was having a roommate, which seemed an especially odd concept as an only child, but my French roommate Colette was so lovely and made it pretty easy to coexist in the same tiny space made smaller by all the mess I made! However, living in the International house allowed me to meet so many other amazing international students from all over the world and has definitely made me realise how tough it must be for international students coming to Keele to adapt to a new country and a new way of learning!
For anyone considering study abroad but put off by the finances, don’t let it hold you back! A combination of student loan and saving allowed me to fund my study abroad experience myself with no help from my parents which made it all the more worthwhile. I got to travel to Washington and New York as well as a few cities in North Carolina on my pretty basic budget showing it's possible if you shop around for deals and don’t expect to be living in luxury in order to have an amazing experience. In fact, some of my funniest memories from studying abroad were the interesting places we stayed in, especially one hotel where we were pretty sure the room hadn’t been cleaned since the last people were in there!
Through my experience of studying abroad I’ve learned not to wait for other people to do things for me and to stand on my own two feet. Also, not to care so much about what people think about me - if people like me for me then that's great but if not then that isn’t a big deal - you can’t get along with everyone. From eating at a restaurant featured on ‘Man v. Food’ to attending a ton of fraternity parties (one of which had a frat pig who wore a little t-shirt) to meeting Biffy Clyro at some random rock festival and renting a cabin in the middle of a national park with some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen, studying aboard had it all. In that short space of time I laughed a lot, cried a little and went from a naive girl to an independent woman with a thirst to see what else the world has to offer.
Thank you so much to Holly for writing about her experience studying abroad in the USA! Keep your eyes peeled for more posts, and if you would like to contribute don't hesitate to contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org - with the promise that it will get published! No more posts gathering dust in my drafts!