I don’t think there’s anything more exciting than taking a year to study abroad. As our communities expand, getting to learn how someone else would solve the same issues you’ll face in your degree is an invaluable experience. I’m sure most employers would agree with me too.
I’m Marcus, an exchange student studying out in cold, cold Wisconsin. As an Architecture student, it’s pretty rare to find a school which teaches in a similar manner to Sheffield and allow credit transfer. Heck, I’ve enjoyed my time so much here that I contemplated staying a second year! I’ll share my experiences of summer.
My situation was a teensy bit unusual. I arrived a month and a half before classes even began. Why? Airport security wanted to know for sure. Yes, I’ve experienced the other side of Border Control. I scouted out my university as soon as I was placed there and found their cheerleading program. After sending a video audition and talking with the coaches they accepted me in their Summer team and I was cleared to fly. I highly recommend joining a sports team. Not only will you meet awesome people who will show you the ways of their university, it’s a great way to spend your summer rather than just hanging out at home. Also, I now have more cheer t-shirts than I have regular t-shirts. Trust me, I counted.
I’ll begin with my flight over as that was an ordeal. Just to remind you to stay calm and ask for assistance when things get bumpy. By law the airline has to reroute you. I experienced two cancelations, three delays and re-routing through another airport not originally on my itinerary. Luckily I was signed up for email alerts from the airlines so I got prompt notifications of my new route. I may have splurged for a quick massage at one of the airport spas after my supposed 18 hour journey extended to 32. Nevertheless, I ended up at my correct destination. A nap was in order.
The study abroad office at my host university was a delight. Partially as I was so eager to come (a month and a half early) and I was taking part in a sport. The more you put in, the more you get out of your experiences I’d say! Practices started in a week, I’d better get ready. I’d signed up for a huge commitment, 2x3h practices a week and basketball games (televised on ESPN’s university channel of course) and during the summer, 9-5 all weekend stunting sessions along with open gymnastics. Eek. It wasn’t all serious though. I got to take part in Wisconsin’s State Fair Parade (yes, I paraded!) and tried my first cream puff, along with fried cheese curds, fried Oreos and funnel cake – fried cake batter.
American collegiate sports are on another level. Cheerleading for definite as it’s far more popular over the Atlantic. I was asked to to things I’d never done before but my team and coaches were all incredibly supportive and informative. On my second day, there was a new introduction for potential freshman students (Wow, American universities seem to take recruiting so seriously!) and since my accent is very rare in the Midwest, the director of the sporting department asked me to be the voice for the mascot! I continued through the semester with cheer and stunt slowly making progress to make my new US standards, met more teammates as the Fall recruitment began, met alumni at golfing events we’d spirit for and cheered on the Panthers at basketball games – the team colours are even Black and Gold, same as Sheffield, talk about co-incidence.
If there’s something you want to do, like a sport for example, it’s worth looking up your host university’s team and email the coaches. Even if you don’t want to play at a collegiate level, plenty of universities offer classes and have the facilities. You’ll quickly find a group of people who want to do the same extra-curriculars.