It has only been seven weeks but I can truthfully say that this experience has changed my life thus far. When I arrived, my roommate met me and helped me bring my belongings from the airport shuttle to our home for the semester. It has been very strange sharing a room again as I haven’t shared a room with anyone since I was eight years old! One of the best things about having a roommate is that it quells the loneliness you can feel when you have a single room in English residence halls. Now we are a lot like sisters and it feels like a sleepover every night.
It was very overwhelming when I arrived. We had our international
orientation and students mentioned that humanities students typically read 100-200 pages per class and students are advised to take between 4-5 classes. That is a lot more reading than I am used to; it was just a case of adjusting. The first week was hard because the educational system in the USA is very different to England. In England we submit our application through UCAS and we know what we want to study for three years. In America, students can be undecided on their major until they are twenty! This means that many students take a variety of classes like journalism, history, mathematics and astrology. As a history major, it was a lot of reading as students here don’t usually opt for four history classes. Some history majors can just take one history class per semester. So, I was taking too much history it seemed as I was getting very stressed and worried about the workload.
One of my main concerns about studying abroad was that I had to transfer to Southampton from Cambridge because of mental health. I did not want this to prohibit me from succeeding in America. However, I could feel that if I had too much stress that it would be a cause for concern. I decided to be pro-active and dropped a history class and opted for a relaxation technique class. It was such an amazing decision because the class has taught me “how to do nothing.” A lot of students have issues with mental health because it is generally diagnosed by the age of 21-25 so it is good for there to be an outlet and a way to control the stress of student life.
Pastoral care here is very impressive. University housing employs “House Fellows” who are stationed on every floor and ours is named Anna. She is so lovely, inspirational and supportive because when I was having a difficult time, or if I have a bad day she is always there for a chat and a hug! It is always good to not feel alone in the university environment, especially being an international student.
I have made the most incredible friends, from Australia, England, Africa and the USA. I already have a family here and we are not even half way through the semester yet. Your friends really make your experience here so I am incredibly lucky to have connected with so many people from the beginning.
I live right Lake Mendota which makes me feel extremely lucky every day. When we first arrived it was 35 degrees and we had to jump in the lake to cool off! Now the leaves are changing colour and the air is getting colder but the lake is still as beautiful as ever. Apparently it freezes during the winter and people walk across it! This is a very foreign concept to me because I’m very sure my mum would advise against it but it is the norm for students here.
I have been to a Brewer’s baseball game, seen a Broadway show (Chicago), climbed the stairs of the Capitol building, been to the farmer’s market and had S’mores at picnic point! There is much more fun to be had, as Halloween is approaching and Madison has an event called “Freak-fest” and I’m heading to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.
I want to end this blog reminding students that with passion and dedication you can achieve whatever you desire. I had a dream of one day studying in the USA, and now I am here…
“Give yourself a mountain, the view at the top is worth the climb.”