As my short time in America is quickly coming to an end, I wanted to share my personal experience with the country of the red, white and blue. It was a unique experience and I want to thank the University of Southampton for giving me this opportunity to complete a year abroad, im so thankful for attending the best university in the world, in my opinion. I started at Humboldt State University, California, United States of America, in August of 2018; it had been a rather hectic departure from England, I had to quickly book a flight after realizing that school started in a week! And after a long sleepless 11-hour flight I arrived in America and the first thing I noticed was the trees. The majestic fir and redwoods assaulted my senses, my dorm room was in the middle of a forest from the fairytales from my childhood, the sight was overpowered by these giant trees that loomed over me, the smell was so earthy and fresh, and although I was surrounded by so much vegetation there was no noise… pure silence, it was beautiful.
My first impressions of the American people were interesting to say the least. I don’t know if it was first week impressions, but I just saw colour everywhere! Tie dye is a common fashion statement in Humboldt county, and it was in plenty here. I felt that I was both blending in and sticking out, my fashion sense was somewhat similar but with more leggings, which has only just becoming a regular fashion piece and not just gym or athletic wear in America but still was slightly different, and the fact that somehow it felt like I had British tattooed across my head (even though it’s not, obviously). I felt very out of place, like an obvious tourist. It also felt like I became an exhibition and I often earned a lot of strong emotion and exclamations on “why was I here?” and “Why America?”, often with a tone of negative disbelief. People did not seem sure why I had come to America, in fact they thought I had wasted my time. Its strange that just a short few years ago, America seemed like the place to be specifically the east and west coasts; east coast for the fashion and bright lights and the west coast for the sun and beach with a little bit of Hollywood mixed in. I think initially I came to America to experience all the change and turmoil that had been happening in the recent years, I couldn’t stay in my protected and safe bubble of home and university (despite Brexit, it seems relativity calm and boring), I needed to expand… also I only know English and America made sense.
The first few months I kind of became a novelty and had never found it more easier to make friends then ever in my life, I also found a lot more people sharing my common nerdy interests of Pokémon and Dungeons and Dragons, but I found that I was expressing my Britishness more in order to get a reaction and more attention after a few months. I was fearful that I would lose my new found friends and popularity. But the Americans seem to have a way to bring out your own personality and desires in a way that has never been expressed before, even though I’m still shy and introverted but I lost my fear of liking makeup and caring about my looks, things that I had feared that would make me like every girl back home thus would make me dull and boring, but no being here in America made me realize that I was something more than what everyone told me to be, I could be a nerd, a geek and still like makeup and the colour pink.
By Katie L.