Since my past post, I can confirm that studying aboard at UMW was a superb choice! I have finally fully adjusted to all my classes and the American culture. The work structure was definitely different to the one back at Reading, which took time adapting. For instance, there are more lectures, assignments are due on a weekly basis and exams are taken every few weeks. Although the amount of work is clearly more intense, I have found that it isn’t as tough content wise. So, as long as you stay on top of it, you’ll be fine!
Throughout these few months, I have managed to experience tons of lifelong memories and visit lots of new places, in Virginia and other states within this relatively short period of time. Some of these trips included going to NYC for Fall break with 5 others for 6 days. It was a fantastic experience because we got to see Brooklyn, Times Square, go up the Empire State Building to see the concrete jungle in its full glory, visit the MONA, go shopping on Saks 5th Avenue, walk around Central Park and Grand Central Station where I had flashbacks to my ‘Gossip Girl’ days!
I also got the chance to visit West Virginia and see Blackwater Falls at the height of the fall season which truly was a picturesque experience. It was incredible to see a National Park with all the vibrant colour trees and see all the amazing views! It was a fairly long car journey (3 hours each way) but the scenery was absolutely worth it!
Other activities included going to a soccer game in DC, going to King Dominion (a theme park) which had a fright night which was very spooky and fun! The University also arranged further trips for our house to visit DC, where I was able to visit several of the museums including the National history museum, the National Art Gallery and the American History museum. I also visited Richmond, went apple picking and went to a shooting range and shot a gun (which did terrify me).
Myself and 3 of the internationals living in Framar House got invited to spend Thanksgiving break in November with one of our friends Christian. We spent a lot of time consuming wine with his family, visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains, meeting all the immensely friendly family members and consuming lots of scrumptious food. Quite frankly I’ve never been so excited to see home cooked food!
The rest of the fall semester was spent focusing on my studies, as finals were looming and lots of assignments were due. Finals were obviously stressful as they are back home, but I felt the added pressure here since we didn’t get any time off to study for them. However, I got through this period with knowing that I was heading back to NYC to see it at Christmas. I adore Christmas, so getting this opportunity during this season was a dream come true! So, myself, Alice, Luisa and Silvia, headed to NYC on the 16th December and used these few days away to spend quality time together, relax and explore more of Manhattan. We endlessly strolled around Central Park in the snow, went to see Wicked, visited far too many coffee shops and saw all the sensational decorations at Rockefeller. It was here I additionally had to say my farewells to these girls since they were only studying at UMW for 1 semester which was very emotional since I have spent every day of the last 4 months with them and shared some tremendous memories. However, we have already planned to visit one another next summer, so I cannot wait to see them all and visit Italy and Germany.
Currently I am sat back home in the UK as I flew back for the Christmas festivities and the chance to see all my family. Being back here has allowed me to reflect on these amazing past 4 months, through all the great opportunities I got to partake in and knowing that I have grown in regard to confidence, independence and adaptability. Although I am so grateful to be with my family, I am consumed with a sense of excitement to fly back out for the spring semester and see what new adventures I get up to!