Studying aboard is something I have always wanted to do as it allowed me to mix both studying and travelling together. When this opportunity became available to study aboard for 1 year, I was beyond excited and was determined to make the most of it! So, I headed to the University of Mary Washington, and I am loving every minute of it.
At first, I was expectedly apprehensive as I was heading into the unknown – I didn’t know anyone, was in a completely different country, and 3,000+ miles away from my family and friends. I arrived at Dulles Airport on 21st August and began my journey. All my anxious feelings were quickly overcome as soon as I landed, met my new housemates and saw where I’d be living for the next academic year.
I decided to live in the International Living Community, also known as Framar House. This is a house of 20 students, and a mixture of both Americans and internationals. From living here, I was able to meet lots of new people and throw myself into all the activities going on. However, with a mixture of both jet lag and excitement, the first week was mostly a blur. There were lots of orientation events to attend, register for classes, meetings with the Center for International Education department (CIE) and fun events in the evenings.
After the first week of initially settling in, getting used to ev erything, visiting the local historic and picturesque town of Fredericksburg, classes began. I was enrolled in their business college and had one or two classes per day. Getting used to a new education system, the accents and new classes and the new way of learning all proved more difficult than I had expected. But through already making close friends already with both housemates and classmates, and having understanding professors, I was able to adapt to this new way of studying.
The first few weeks here at the University of Mary Washington, I was able to visit Washington DC and see all the wonderful memorials, monuments and museums (many of which are free which is all the better). My favourite part of DC was the Lincoln Memorial and the incredible view you get. Myself and other internationals (Alice, Silvia and Luisa) all spontaneously decided to do a sunrise hike up a mountain in Shenandoah National Park, although it was incredibly early and freezing, the ultimate view was definitely worth it! One of the American guys in the house, John, also offered to take us to all the local historic sites within Fredericksburg, to educate us on the Civil War, and how Fredericksburg played a key part.
Quite probably one of the most American things I could do but I have started a bucket list of all the American fast food places I go to that aren’t in the UK, and rating each one (how very American). So far, nothing can beat Chick-fil-a!
These first few weeks being here has allowed me to grow independently, adapt to new situations, and travel. I have also become very close to 3 new friends who I know I will have for the rest of my life, so I am excited to see where the next year here will take me!