As the days start to get a little shorter here in Sheffield, and as the reality of my final year dissertation starts to set in, its getting a whole lot easier to spend my time procrastinating by reminiscing about my year in North Carolina. To help deal with the post year abroad blues, here are the five things I miss the most about life in America, and therefore five things you could experience if you chose to study abroad.
1) Weekend getaways
Without a doubt, the highlight of studying abroad is getting the opportunity to travel to the places you’d always dreamt of seeing. Wherever you end up, you’ll no doubt spend your free time constantly on the road with your new friends.
Luckily for me, Chapel Hill was situated just 45 minutes from a major airport, giving me plenty of chances to see the famous sights America has to offer. From the bright lights of New York as seen from the Top Of The Rock, to the famous Louisiana brisket and New Year’s Eve fireworks New Orleans; from sunbathing on the sunny South Beach of Miami, to the electric atmosphere of Austin’s Sixth Street… The list is endless. Studying in America gave me the opportunity to see places I may never have visited had I not been living at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The things I’d do to spend this weekend back there, and not in the I.C.
2) The sport
America’s sport scene is ludicrous, to say the least. Turn on a TV at any given moment, and you can guarantee there will be a huge sporting event waiting for you. And given my loyalty to Middlesbrough Football Club and football (NOT SOCCER) in general, I was adamant that I’d struggle to find a sport that I’d really take to. Funnily enough, I now struggle to name one I don’t love.
I was fortunate that UNC had incredible sports teams, and given that student tickets were free to all events, it was hard not to be swept up in the hype on game day. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a Saturday that in the sun at a tailgating event (basically BBQ and beers) before a football match at Kenan Stadium.
Basketball season was somehow even better than football season, and I was lucky enough to get to watch UNC beat their rivals Duke, something that was followed up by complete carnage on Franklin Street (imagine a student takeover of West Street after a Varsity victory; I’m talking thousands of students, fires on the street and fireworks. Insanity.) Even baseball, a sport I did not understand in the slightest (I still struggle with it now), became a favourite of mine, with Boshamer Stadium offering me a more scenic place to revise, sunbathe or unwind with a beer during the summer months.
If you decide to study in America, just take my advice and embrace the sporting culture. You won’t regret it.
3) The weather
This one is probably the most relevant on this grey, rainy day in Crookes. There truly is no better feeling than waking up every morning to t-shirt weather. Even in December, I can recall days where I had to wear shorts to stay cool. In typical Brit abroad style, I often ended up a lovely shade of red, and wished away the heat (and prayed for some of that beautiful northern drizzle.) The cliché is true; you don’t know what you’ve gone till it’s gone.
Whilst the ‘Beast from the East’ was causing chaos at home, I only experienced snow one time in America. My snow day probably turned out to be the most memorable day of my whole year abroad, ending with a huge snowball fight in Kenan Stadium. But even then, one day later, the snow had melted, and I was back in shorts. What I’d do to have those Carolina blue skies back in my life on days like these.
4) The scenery
I feel a bit guilty about this one, to tell you the truth. Growing up in the North Yorkshire Moors, and with the Peak District on my doorstep here in Sheffield, I’ve always had access to a breath-taking view whenever I fancied it. But in North Carolina, I was blown away by the beauty the state possessed.
Whether I was watching the sunrise at the Outer Banks, sitting on the edge of Blowing Rock (see the header photo for this article, incredible), or relaxing by Jordan Lake, North Carolina left me speechless on many occasions (as those who know me will confirm, that’s not something that’s easily done.) The crazy truth is, if it wasn’t for my year abroad, I would likely never have come across these breath-taking views. It really is hard to fathom a life where I hadn’t witnessed these sights, and I hope one day I can fall in love with them all over again.
5) The UNC Squad
It really wouldn’t be right to leave out the people who made my experience so incredible, so here’s to my North Carolinian squad. You gave me countless road trips, a ridiculous amount of laughs (mainly at the expense of my lovely Yorkshire accent) and, most importantly, you proved that ‘Southern hospitality’ is the finest hospitality in the world. Studying abroad gave me the platform to meet these incredible people, and now, I can’t imagine a life without them. To tell you the truth, they’re probably the thing I miss the most about life in America (get your violins out, people), and I can’t wait to get myself back to Chapel Hill to do it all over again.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be back in Sheffield. Words don’t describe how much I’ve missed the Peak District, Notty pies and, of course, five-pound rounds. But on cold, autumnal nights like this, it’s impossible not to have Carolina on my mind.
If you’re interested in studying abroad during your degree, make sure you come along to the Global Opportunities and Exchanges Fair on Thursday 25th October in The Octagon, or contact Global Opps for more information! You won’t regret it.