Adventure of a Lifetime

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Jake studied abroad at the University of Mississippi in the USA as part of his History degree at Reading. A few months on after returning to Reading after a semester abroad, we find out how he made the most of his time there. 

So my study abroad experience is finally coming to an end. I absolutely cannot believe that my time in the United States and at Ole Miss is pretty much up, and that soon I will be boarding a plane headed for home. These last few weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of exams, parties and visits to other parts of the nation. Recently, I endured the stress of finals week and the novelty of juggling writing essays, studying for tests, and attending classes as well as the other million things I have had to do. But after those were done with it was time to celebrate and look forward to enjoying some well-earned time off over Christmas. Then came the dreaded last day in which I had to bid farewell to Ole Miss, my fellow international students and American friends. This was much more difficult than as I had imagined it to be a few months ago and indeed I am fairly reluctant to leave. On the bright side I have made many good friends from all over the globe whom I plan on staying in touch with, and while not overly enthusiastic to return home I am excited to see everybody there.

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

International Students

Since my last post I met up with my Dad, Brother and American family in New Orleans, Louisiana and explored the historical town. We enjoyed a few drinks on the world-famous Bourbon Street and took a tour of the Mississippi river on a traditional paddle steamer. The city certainly has a lot of character and is incredibly lively at all times of the day, particularly in the French Quarter where were staying. Then over Thanksgiving I decided to take a last minute hiking trip to Colorado and see the Rocky Mountains for myself. This was been something I had always wanted to do and so this week-long break provided the perfect opportunity to tick something off of my bucket list. I can safely say that the views did not disappoint even slightly. The mountains, forests, and the hiking trails were all breath-taking, beautiful and something I am never likely to forget. Despite the freezing weather and snow (-10 °C at one point!) the warm reception I received from the people of Denver made the trip all the more worthwhile. Again this was just another amazing thing I was able to do as part of this whole experience studying abroad and I feel very lucky to have been able to do so.

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Paddle Steamer on the Mississippi river in New Orleans

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Colorado Views

I am currently staying in Memphis, Tennessee for a weekend before I fly back home next week and I’m taking this time to relax and do a few touristy things. I managed to catch a Grizzlies basketball game last night and pretend to know what was going on, and today I visited the home of the King himself, Elvis Presley’s mansion and estate at Graceland. This weekend has also provided an opportunity to reflect on my time here. Studying abroad in the United States was something that I had wanted to do well before I even applied to university and all of my expectations have been met and then some. To anybody reading this debating whether or not to sign up for a semester or year abroad, I have said it before but I’ll say it again, just go for it. Take the plunge and go on an adventure of a lifetime.

Jake

Missed Jake’s last blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2kWn3eU

Upgraded to Business Class after the Goodbyes

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Harriet is studying abroad at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) in the USA as part of her English Literature Degree at Reading. After spending a semester abroad, this is her last post covering her last month in the USA!

So my Study Abroad experience has finished and I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life so far. In my last few weeks at CSU I experienced Thanksgiving – it’s basically just Christmas but without any presents. I spent the week with my friend and her family and it was great to feel involved with the true American culture. The food was also amazing! When I was at my friend’s house we visited Denver one night, which is the capital city of Colorado. We went to the Aquarium and also just explored downtown a bit, so it was nice to see other parts of Colorado. It was also great to just have a week of no work after having eleven solid weeks at University without a break!

After Thanksgiving I had a few more weeks of classes before finals week, and it finally snowed! It snowed a lot more than it usually does in England, and the snow stayed for about a week before melting. It was so cold but worth it because Colorado is really gorgeous in the snow, especially the mountains.

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Soon enough it was finals week. I had been dreading it, however exams were not even nearly as hard as exams in Reading – I got 2 hours for each exam to answer short questions without writing any long essays. I finished really early in every exam and I think my grades are looking okay. One of my exams was also online so for this we were allowed to look at our notes whilst we were taking the exam! It is definitely easier to get good grades in America than it is in the UK!

After finals week I went to Seattle, Washington with my roommate and my friend from Reading. We stayed with my roommate’s family who were really accommodating and made us feel incredibly welcome. We had an amazing week and saw sights such as the Space Needle, Gas Works Park, the famous gum wall, and took a ferry across to Bainbridge Island. On our last day in Seattle we went Snow Tubing in the mountains, which was incredible. You basically sit in a rubber ring and go sledding, but being in the mountains made it an even more amazing experience. Seattle is a beautiful city and it’s very historical so it was interesting to visit, and it was also great to get to spend more time with my roommate before having to say goodbye.

Leaving the US and my roommate was most definitely the hardest part of my experience – I just did not want to leave, and if I had had the option to spend the entire year in America I would have. Our flight home was quite eventful as we arrived late to our connecting flight so had to be rerouted through New York instead of Georgia. But we were upgraded to business class because of the delays, so it could definitely have been worse!

I have been talking to my roommate every day since leaving and have already planned my next trip to America, as well as when my friends from Colorado will visit England. Study Abroad was a truly awesome experience and I would not change a second of my time.

Harriet

Read Harriet’s last post here: http://bit.ly/2iL05Jc 

 

Tailgating & College Football Games

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Jake is currently studying abroad at the University of Mississippi in the USA as part of his History degree at Reading. Over half way through his semester abroad in the Deep South, read on to find out how Jake has been making the most of his study abroad experience. 

Now that I am roughly half way through my time here at Ole Miss and have had time to settle into life in the Deep South, I can reaffirm with confidence that this is one of the most welcoming and friendly places I have ever visited! The academic term is well under way and I am currently in my ninth week of lectures that I am still finding the classes just as interesting as I had before. The tutors are all very helpful and ready to offer assistance if and when needed at any time and have all been really understanding as I got to grips with the American way of writing essays etc. The workload is significantly greater than back home as I have already had three exams and five essays due on top of other assignments, but overall I would say that generally speaking the content covered seems to be slightly easier than the topics studied in England. As I am working towards a history degree, it has been captivating to see how exactly this is taught in the United States. There is an enormous emphasis on the history of the USA, reflected through the classes available to take as well as the in-class content too. This was partially why I chose to study abroad in America as I didn’t really know that much about their history but thanks to the fantastic Arch Dalrymple III history department here at the University of Mississippi that changed within weeks. Even though I am only halfway through my time here I believe that this different insight will really aid my studies when back home in Reading.

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Ole Miss Entrance (left) and a surprising sight in Oxford town square (right)

University of Reading student studying abroad in USA for a Semester

Oxford, Mississippi

As mentioned in the last post I was yet to experience a college football game but since then I have been lucky enough to watch three! In all of these, the Rebels have managed to win beating Wofford, Georgia State and the University of Memphis, and provided an electric atmosphere that lasted the entire length of all of the games despite continuing for three to four hours! Making the experience more enjoyable is the fact that I am not only understanding the game more so every time I attend a match but that I am developing a true passion for football and is definitely something that I shall take away from this experience. The American tradition of ‘tailgating’ before home games has also proven to be very entertaining and is a great opportunity to mix and socialise with Americans and other international students from across the globe alike. Since then I have also had the opportunity to properly explore the college town of Oxford and take in all of its charm that it has to offer, like many small American towns do. As for venturing further afield, I have not crossed State lines since my last trip but I am planning on visiting New Orleans, Louisiana as well as the capital of Mississippi, Jackson, in the coming weeks. I am still missing everyone back home but at the same time having the time of my life. Bring on the next half!

Jake

 

 

Running workshops at the local prison

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Harriet is currently studying abroad at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) in the USA as part of her English Literature Degree at Reading. Getting involved in CSU has given her the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of activities, read on to find out more. 

Halfway through my study abroad experience and I can most definitely say that I do not want to come home! My classes are going really well and it’s interesting to get a different perspective on subjects that I learnt at home. I’ve just finished a week full of midterm exams, however they were definitely not as hard as the exams at Reading because most of the exams are multiple-choice, so a lot better than writing essays!

Two weeks ago I took part in “weekend in the mountains”, a trip run for international students where we went up to the Colorado State University Mountain Campus for the weekend and do a load of activities, such as hiking and roasting smores on the campfire. This was really cool, and I made a lot of friends from Universities all over the world, mainly Australia and New Zealand. The weekend was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who goes to CSU for their study abroad.

I’ve also gotten involved with the CSU Literacy Centre, so every Wednesday evening me and three other girls go to the local prison and run a workshop with some of the inmates, and at the end of the semester we publish a book of everything they have written. It’s been a really rewarding experience so far, and it’s something that I’d really love to bring back to Reading because I can see the huge difference it’s making on the inmates’ lives. There are also workshops run with unprivileged children, which one of my friends is involved in, and she also loves it.

I still can’t believe how much pride the students have for the school here at CSU. It was homecoming last week, so there was a huge bonfire, fireworks, a load of parades, and a big football game, which we finally won! It was a really great week and everyone was decked out in CSU gear all week. There’s a lot more team spirit and support for all of the sports teams here than there is at Reading, so it’s really nice to be able to get involved with all of that.

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Halloween was also really cool, but it’s not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. My roommate and I went to a few Halloween parties, which were all really cool! Thanksgiving break is also coming up in a few weeks! I’m staying at a friend’s house for the week and we’re planning a load of activities to do each day, so hopefully I’ll get to explore more of Colorado! As well as Colorado, I’m going to Washington for a few days at the end of December with my roommate before flying back to England. I’m really excited to go there because that’ll be the fourth state that I’ve visited in my time here, and it looks like such a pretty state, although it’s definitely livelier than it is here in Colorado. I wish I could stay here for the whole year, but this is definitely an experience I will never forget!

Harriet

Missed Harriet’s first blog post? Catch up on her ‘My Dorm looks out on the Rocky Mountains’ Post.

My Dorm Room looks over the Rocky Mountains…


University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Harriet is currently studying abroad at the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) in the USA as part of her English Literature Degree at Reading. Read on to find out how she’s adjusting life in the USA.

Before coming to Fort Collins, a friend and myself went to New York for five days and Florida for ten. We had an amazing time in New York: we went up the Rockefeller Centre, on a boat tour around New York City, and went shopping on 5th Avenue, among other things. Florida was also amazing: we went to Disney World for a few days, and we also went to Universal Studios. This travelling experience was a great way to see different parts of the country and at the end of it, we were both so excited to finally get to Colorado and move into our dorms!

When the plane began to land at Denver International Airport, I fell in love with Colorado; all you could see were fields with occasional small towns nestled among them, and this view didn’t change once I had landed. Through the whole drive from the airport to the University, the mountains were visible: they spread over the whole state and make for insane photos! My dorm room looks out onto the Rocky Mountains and I still haven’t got over the beauty of this state. Every morning when I wake up I have to take a picture of the mountains in the morning sun because it takes my breath away – it’s definitely very different to Reading!

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Making the most of the semester abroad in the USA

My first few weeks at Colorado have been amazing! I have made lots of friends from all over the world, which is really cool. So far I have been on a hike up the mountains, gone to an American Football game, and went out boating on the Horsetooth Reservoir. Through most of the game I had no idea what was happening and our team lost, but it was an amazing atmosphere and it was definitely more interesting to watch than a normal football game! Going up the mountains was also amazing and stunning; you could see for miles all along the reservoir and I made a lot of friends whilst doing this hike who I have seen a lot since then. Going boating has definitely been my favourite thing so far though – I went with my roommate and her family friends and we did a lot of water sports, like tubing and wake-boarding.

My roommate is so nice; in the fortnight that we have known each other we have grown so close and I can definitely see us being friends for life. She has invited me to Seattle for a few days in December and I have made her promise to come and visit me in England once the study abroad experience is over. We have made a bucket-list of adventures to go on whilst we’re here, so quite soon we are hoping to get a group of us together and go on a hike at night to look at the stars and watch the sun rise over the mountains, which sounds really amazing.

There is quite a lot of work compared to back home, but none of it is too much, and it’s quite nice to know how you’re doing. The teachers are all really nice and are willing to help out with even the smallest thing. I can’t wait to spend more time getting to know the people and the state and am looking forward to going on different adventures!

Harriet

‘Ole Miss’ American Way of Life

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

Jake is currently studying abroad at the University of Mississippi in the USA as part of his History degree at Reading. Just a few weeks in he has already visited other cities in the US! Read on to find out more.

When I arrived in Oxford, Mississippi very late in the evening on Saturday 13th August, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at the University of Mississippi. Yes, I had done essentially as much research as I possibly could on the college itself, the town, the people, the culture, the history and everything else, but actually being right here in the heart of the South, was quite utterly remarkable!

I soon settled in and got to know my Japanese roommate, whom I get along very well with, as well as other international and American students attending ‘Ole Miss’. After about a week classes started and at first the style in which they are conducted in the U.S. surprised me. The lecturers all share an incredible passion for their fields of interest and this enthusiasm is translated into every single lesson. I have also found everyone to be really friendly, polite and welcoming as is custom in the southern parts of the USA, and this has made adjusting to the American way of life that much easier.

In terms of travelling, I have already been lucky enough to have visited Memphis in Tennessee twice as well as Nashville in the same state. Both of these are amazing cities that offer unique experiences such as the arty ‘Gulch’ area of Nashville (main blog picture) and the historic downtown on Broadway, the home of country and western music! Equally as interesting was the smaller town of Memphis, and for me as a history student visiting where Dr King was shot in 1968 was both humbling and fascinating.

As you would expect, the food here is both delicious and also tends to come in large portions! Mississippi and the surrounding states are well known for their distinct tastes and flavours. The fried chicken is unlike anything back home and as for the catfish, a traditional southern dish, it’s simply irreplaceable. It also goes without saying that another Dixie classic that I have tried while in the U.S. is iced tea, and again our British equivalent doesn’t come at all close to this wonderfully refreshing drink that suits the hot, humid climate of the South.

University of Reading student studying abroad in the USA for a Semester

The social aspect of my time here so far has also been extraordinary with many chances to meet new people from all over the globe. In fact the trip to Memphis mentioned previously was arranged by the Study Abroad office here and was a fantastic way of meeting students from Germany to Australia! Let’s not forget the Americans, who also socialise a great deal whether it be frat parties (a lot of fun) or the infamous Ole Miss cookouts or ‘tailgating’ as they call it before home football games. I am yet to experience the latter, a college tradition, but hopefully I’ll be able to change that this weekend when the Rebels take on Wofford in their second game of the season. Although I am missing everybody back in England, at this point during my trip I am still very much excited for what is still left to come!

Jake