My week in pictures 

 

Morning strolls to the gym meant I found this gem on Sunday.   
Procrastination led to henna tattoos (mine is the anchor).  
 

Midnight milkshakes.

It’s always nice to find little coffee shops.   

I went to carnival and we were told to write something we would like to put out into the universe.  

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I auditioned for an acapella group

I have always wanted to be involved in an acapella group. It fascinates me how by working together you can create a beautiful sound with your voices, so when I saw a poster advertising auditions for an all female acapella group I immediately headed for the interest meeting. We were welcomed by wonderful, smiley women who introduced themselves and told us what the group was all about. I knew I had to audition! That being said, I never expected I would get a part. For me it was enough just to have the experience of going to an audition and getting to sing for the group.

I arrived super early for the auditions because I’m that person who arrives early for everything. In this case it worked in my favour as I was the third name on the list! We were given a form to fill in which included the essentials (name, email address, year, why do you want to be a member) and the not so essential but hilarious (tell us a joke – mine was awful, i know one joke and it’s not even funny!). After about ten minutes I was called into the audition room, had my photo taken, gave in my form and then introduced myself. I sang ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran because it’s one of my favourite songs & I thought it was one I could really make my own by playing around with it. They then tested my range and I shocked myself by going beyond my usual top note (a high A) and managed to just about reach a high C! We did some pitch matching as well which reminded me of all the choir warm-ups we used to do back in school. And then that was it. I now had to wait and see if I got a callback.

I headed to the library and finished some work and skyped my boyfriend to help try to calm my nerves but with time still to kill I went and chatted to some of the other girls who had auditioned. Then phones started to ring. I hadn’t set up my new US sim card yet so I was sat refreshing my emails! Then it popped up – I had a call back!! I was so excited as I never expected to get one. A lot of amazing girls auditioned! Excitedly we hurried back into the audition room. We were taught a song and then had to sing together so that they could figure out who blended and who did not. I was so nervous that I would mess up but I thought it went okay.

Then the waiting began again. I headed back to the library with a few of the girls and anxiously waited for an email. We waited for about half an hour and then my phone dinged……

I GOT IN!!!!! I AM OFFICIALLY PART OF AN ACAPELLA GROUP!!!

I had the best night meeting all the girls and getting to know one another. I have been on cloud nine ever since. I cannot wait to start learning songs and getting involved. I haven’t stopped smiling.

So one piece of advice for today and every other  day…if you want to try something new but are scared, DO IT ANYWAY. I was so nervous but look how everything turned out! JUST GIVE IT A GO, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE IN TRYING!

A Weekend Hike

Last weekend some of the Americans I have met here got a group of us internationals together to show us one of their state’s natural treasures. Germans, Americans, Moroccans, Australians, Italians and British students (plus a poodle!) all came on this trip to a National State Park about an hour away from campus.

I have always loved walking and it is been a part of family outings and holidays since I was little. That being said, I must admit the number of actual hikes I have been on was very small. However, I was assured it would only take an hour to get up and down again.

The hike was short but hard work. I haven’t had the best workout routine for the past few months due to how hectic my summer became before leaving. Nevertheless, we reached the top unharmed if a little bit sweaty and I have to say, the sights that greeted us were worth every drop!

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If I had one piece of advice for anyone studying abroad it would be to make friends with people from the country you are studying in, and if possible make friends with people who have cars! Having people who knew the area and had cars meant we could gather together a large group of people for a really fun day out and a little bit of head space before classes started.

Go out and find an adventure!

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(Please ignore my poor form! I know this isn’t the greatest tree pose but I was balancing on one leg near the edge of a mountain so I was shaking so bad!)

It gets better…

I could pretend I had the best week of my life but I’d be lying.

I’ve had an amazing first week in America packed full of wonderful things (post to come later with details of that) but as you may have seen, in my last post I mentioned having some problems with my roommate. The truth is she was making my life miserable. I think I FaceTimed my dad every day last week in floods of tears because of the hostility I was receiving from this girl. It truly baffles me that someone can be unkind to someone who is in a foreign country by themselves with no escape. 

I don’t want this post to scare anyone who is planning a year abroad to worry about roommates though as I have met some wonderful people here who both make great roomies and have great roomies. The important thing to remember and to understand is that it can get better. If you live with someone whose habits annoy you – talk to them because chances are they may not even realise they are doing it or it bothers you. If they continue talk to an RA as they can help you settle things with your roommate. However, if someone is acting in a hostile manner and you feel uncomfortable and feel like your health and your school work might suffer please remember this: you are paying for this experience and it is the responsibility of your host college or university to help you make the most out of it. If you are suffering, find people to contact, make sure your home university knows and is in contact with your host university and make sure to have a supportive group surrounding you. Work with your university until the issue is resolved, don’t let the issue get put on the back burner. If it’s dramatically effecting your experience, something needs to be done.

Without my friends and staff here and  the support of family and friends back home I wouldn’t have got through one of the longest weeks of my life.
I am now so excited to start this next part of the adventure, stronger and happier. It may sound dramatic but living with someone who scares you is no joke. 

Watch out for posts coming up about my trip to a State Park and my first week of classes. 

Top of the parking decks

What a busy first few days! Similarly to British universities, American colleges have what is called an Orientation Week that involves a lot of talks from different people in the university, giving you lots of important information. Whilst they provide a lot of ‘need to know’ information, they do last a long time! Unlike British universities, my college handed out sweets and let us have breaks to stretch our legs. Take note Britain, sweets make you concentrate more!

I have made friends with some of the English international students and we have all made friends with a wonderful American girl who is probably one of the best people I have ever met. Honestly, if I take nothing away from this year other than her friendship I will be over the moon. Anyway, she has introduced us to a lot of her wonderful friends and over the past few days we have hung out with them and done some pretty cool things. At least, to me they seem pretty cool.

One night we went up to the top of the college parking deck with guitars, kahons (box drums) and maracas. We sang some of my favourite songs whilst watching the sun set and eating homemade cookies from someone’s mum. It was beautiful. Something about the music and the backdrop just made it a memorable night.

Yesterday we all went downtown for cheesecake which was heavenly! I am not the biggest fan of cheesecake but these slices are out of this world! On our way back we got chatting to some high school kids who were just about to go off to college. They walked with us and we somehow managed to end up on top of another parking deck, taking in the sights around us.

I don’t know why the past two evenings have involved parking decks but you know what? I kinda like it. I like seeing this new place with new people, discovering new things. I’m really struggling with my roommate so these kinds of nights have kept me sane and reminded me why I am here.

I am here to learn and to grow. Nothing and no one are going to stop me from that.

Off to carry on watching the Great British Bake Off before dinner because you can take the gal out of England but you can’t take England out the gal!

First Impressions

Yesterday was overwhelming. I had met someone from every continent in the world by lunch time and even though I come from a fairly culturally diverse university, this was a whole new level. It was so interesting listening to everyone talk about their countries and I’ve learnt a lot already. 

The thing that has struck me the most though has been the first impression you are given of the university on your first day. When I arrived for my first day of my first year of university in England I was greeted by a form I had to sign, a welcome pack containing useful information about buses etc and a key. Then I was left to find where my room was, unpack and decide what to do with myself for the rest of the day. 

When I arrived today I was greeted by people at the doors smiling and helping us with our bags. I was then given a welcome pack and my key and then asked if I would like to see my room. The girl who took me took my suitcase for me and was really friendly the whole way to my room, pointing out the kitchen and the bathroom on the way. She also told me where my RA lived and told me who she was. Once we got to my room she said to come back to the common room when I was ready. It was already a much more friendly environment than my first day in England. However, let me be clear as I don’t mean to make it sound as if I hated my first day of university. The circumstances were different as I was with my dad, I wasn’t in a new country and I know that it is part of American culture to be friendly and hospitable. Nevertheless, it wasn’t just the people that were lovely. The whole halls were decorated with paper lanterns and flowers and banners. Our doors even had our names on them in little university flags! These personal touches made it so much more welcoming and helped to put me at ease. 

After I’d unpacked a few things a big group of us went to a Mexican restaurant just off campus with a couple of the American volunteers. They were so friendly and helpful and everyone seemed to get on well. When we got back to campus one of the volunteers helped me get my ID card and told me about the buildings we were passing on the way. He had just been on a year abroad in England so we talked a lot about home. The rest of the day was spent in the common room getting to know people and the university ordered the largest delivery of pizza I have ever seen! 

This first day has confirmed to me that should I ever feel homesick or nervous whilst I’m here or I have any questions, there will be someone to help. American universities, you know how to make a good first impression. 

A proud moment 

A big hello from the USA! That’s right I made it! I couldn’t be more proud of myself in this moment for travelling across an ocean by myself with no panic attacks, no stressing out and nearly no tears. (Of course there were some as I had a pretty emotional goodbye with my Dad).

It’s around 6am here but my mind & body are still running on UK time despite having no sleep prior to leaving and a full day of travelling! I must admit that part of the reason I am awake so early is because I am excited for the day ahead. Today is going to be a long day full of introductions, new sights and probably some slightly less exciting admin. I have also been promised that there will be pizza tonight. 

Another reason I am awake might be a combination of gross plane food and no room service – I am so so so hungry! Roll on breakfast time! 

For those of you that have sent encouraging words prior to me leaving, thank you so much. From here on out this is where the real fun starts and there will hopefully be less posts about my nerves and more about what I’ve been doing! 

Laters