Monday, 24 October 2016
Now this blog post is a VERY exciting one. I am in my third year of Uni back in England and I decided to spend a term abroad in America (my degree is American Studies, so it makes sense and is a fab opportunity). I have currently been living in North Carolina for just over two months as part as an exchange programme. I am absolutely LOVING it! I am attending Western Carolina University (WCU) which is an amazing University situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The views are absolutely stunning and I have tried to capture the beauty of the area through taking as many pictures as I can during my time here. The weather has been gorgeous (MUCH nicer than rainy England). Temperatures have pretty much consistently been in the 30's (centigrade) which is just bliss compared to the two hot days we get a year in England! haha. We have had the odd rainy day here but nothing too bad, it's normally blue skies.
The campus is pretty rural - apart from things to do on campus there's not really much around, apart from mountains. I'm not complaining, it's so beautiful and there's so many opportunities for outdoor activities. The closest town is Sylva which is about a 10-15 min drive away, which has everything you need. This includes a huge Walmart which has provided me with everything I have needed throughout my time here. There is also Asheville around an hour's drive away which is also great. Being here compared to being at Uni back home is so different, as the one at home doesn't really have a campus, it's just lots of buildings in a city. Whilst this is great as you immerse yourself in the city much quicker and everything you could ever need is quite literally on your doorstep, it is nice to be somewhere a little quieter, and there is a real community feel on campus.
Something else which is very different to home is that I don't have to do any cooking here (yay!). The majority of students here are catered and have to buy a meal plan. There is a dining hall (which has a gluten-free section), alongside many other food outlet places such as Which Wich, Freshens, McAlister's Deli and Starbucks. It's nice that there's a lot of choice and you can go and eat with your friends. Although I am going to find it a bit weird when I return to England and I have to do my own food shopping and cooking again!
Obviously the main reason why I am here is to study. So I have around 12 hours a week of classes which I am really enjoying. I am studying American Civil War and Reconstruction, History of American Education, American Government and Politics and an Introduction to Business. All of the Professors are really nice and helpful and have made the classes engaging. I have found that learning here is very different to learning back home. The classes here seem to be much more like school compared to my Uni back home, as you have frequent homework, small class sizes and lots of assessments. They are also very hot on attendance. My Uni back home is much more laid back and as long as you give in your work and get a decent grade they're not as bothered about attendance etc. I probably prefer the teaching style back home more (maybe because I'm used to it) but also because I feel like they treat you more like adults and I'm not a huge fan of constant homeworks and assessments, I'd rather have a few weeks to work on one essay. Nonetheless, it's great to experience something different.
Probably the main aspect which has made my time here so far so enjoyable is the people I have met. Not only are the staff friendly and approachable, but the friends I have made are so great and I love them. I have definitely made some friends for life and it's going to be a sad day when I leave! But they will only give me even moreeee of a reason to visit America again. I also love the diversity of people here. As an international student I arrived earlier than the American students, so I met a large group of other international students who are all the sweetest people. I think I remember the international office staff say there were around 65 (?) new international students this year. There are people from the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Japan and so on. It's been great to find out about other cultures.
Whilst I have been here I have tried to make the most of opportunities and do as much as I can. I have visited various places with friends, been to an American Football game, taken lots of photos and most of all tried to enjoy myself. I am only half way through my journey here, and I'm so excited to see what the next couple of months hold for me!