Pardon the pun, call me desperate, but now I have your attention for at least another paragraph.
Sitting down to write my experience of my time abroad was something that I’d thought would come naturally. I’ve already blogged mid-way through my academic year studying in Buffalo, New York. I’ve documented everything from my first NFL game, my trip to San Francisco at Thanksgiving and the consistent assessment of the American academic system (yeah that last one really got me a huge following…).
Yet coming back, and talking about my experience retrospectively, has been difficult. My memories of being in the U.S. seem ephemeral. Sheffield has greeted me like I’d never left. Yet I refuse to believe I’ve come back unchanged as I confront its windy October embrace.
My name’s Liam, I’m a 4th year, and I like to make my life difficult with absurd challenges. Whether it’s studying Aerospace Engineering, obtaining a pilot’s licence or jumping in the deep end studying abroad, there’s just something about pushing myself that I enjoy. X-factor on the sofa with a cup of tea never quite got my adrenaline pumping (sorry Simon).
Life’s just a lot more enjoyable when you blow all your money on a trip down Route 66, whilst ending up in Honky Tonks and trying to line dance to a country band covering Britney Spears (see definition for embellishment here).
Bonus picture of me applying for my green card:
There really is snow place like Buffalo…
Buffalo, perhaps most famous for its chicken wings, perpetual winter snow, hosting the set of Bruce Almighty and housing America’s unluckiest football team (4 straight Superbowl finals and no silverware to show for it…), is located at the very top of New York state. As they like to say it’s “a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls”.
I’m accepting offers to model the “Niagara look”, just @ me on Twitter
I studied at the University at Buffalo, a grand affair of 30,000 students, three campuses and a very heavy research presence. I will say this now, the American system is a barrage of constant assessment. Assignments on a weekly basis, with projects and exams scattered around like a game of minesweeper (I think the obscurity of that joke renders it useless). Each week carries the cost of a little more stress for a more consistent knowledge (crammers among you, be warned!). I’ll leave my detailing of that for now, but a choice to study in the States comes with a serious workload- one that I think was well worth getting used to. I like to think I’m smarter because of it, I’m probably not, but it’s nice to think it.
The reason I went to study abroad was purely to put it on my C.V. and inform employers that I had the opportunity to develop my personal skills, make new academic contacts, place myself in a fresh environment. Oh and yeah, I did a lot of travelling.
Yes there is a lot more to studying abroad than travelling, and what I’ve mentioned above is extremely important. At this point however, I could entice you by showing you a piece of computer coding I used to generate pretty satellite orbit patterns for my professor who used to work at NASA, or, I could show you pretty pictures of places I travelled to. I think the latter draws in a little more.
Top: The cleverly and intellectually named “Meteor Crater”, Left: Me starring in the new series of Fuller House, Right top: Ironically engaging in modern culture at the Grand Canyon, Middle right: Enjoying the hype around the presidential election in D.C., Bottom right: The beautiful Golden Gate as taken by a $20 disposable camera
I was very fortunate to visit D.C. and San Francisco in my first semester around thanksgiving. Buffalo’s also about 2.5 hours away from Toronto, so naturally I used my American friends with cars (hope they don’t read this) to visit there a few times.
Another very important thing to mention is that Student Finance will refund your flights, local transportation and health insurance if you’re in the correct income bracket (and are nice to the folks at the offices in Darlington). Although the method for this is sometimes a little difficult, I’d highly recommend investigating it. It paid for my summer trip, where I had the amazing opportunity to travel Route 66:
Top: Population 1,637 + 1, Bottom left: Me at the F1 GP in Montreal, Bottom middle: A view on the One Trade Centre in NYC, Bottom right: The stage at Governor’s ball festival a couple hours before seeing Beck
I realise this blog is more of a showcase of pictures more than anything. Each picture, however, has a story underlined by new cultures, amazing people, and a growth of experience and knowledge. The application for visas, working out finances, changing academic system and in general experiencing a new culture can be hard. It’s all worth it though. Although Sheffield still greets me with its windy embrace, I greet it back with an open mindedness fresher than my fresher self (I promise this is the last pun I use).
If you’re considering doing this, but you’re not sure, it’s a bit like when your mum argues you should eat your veggies by saying: “You won’t know if you like it until you’ve tried it”.
Accept this ain’t broccoli we’re talking about.
Yes I know I’m wearing orange shoes.