My year abroad came to an abrupt end with the second semester flying by at break neck speed. It deeply saddened me to wave good bye to the place I had grown to love and the people I’d become best friends with; the experiences I had will be cherished forever and hopefully the people I’ve met become life long friends who I can’t wait to see again.
Many asked how I ended up in Miami all of whom asking from different perspectives: why did I pick Miami of all places, I never would have thought YOU would be the one to study abroad and so on. I too ponder these questions and it was for sure one of the most random decisions I had ever made with a friend, Majid, back at Lancaster convincing me that studying abroad would be amazing. Reluctantly I went ahead after spending literally weeks deliberating over basically confidence issues which turned out to be rather ironic as I specifically remember asking Celeste if she thought I were shy/un-confident and receiving the answer: “noo..?”. The year abroad greatly improved my confidence and helped me grow as a person out of a shy shell. As for why I picked Miami, that goes along with another random decision between Iowa and Miami (due to being so unsure about whether to go or not.) I specifically remember asking Chris which he would pick and he said “Miami for sure!?!?”…
Decisions were made further difficult with the passing of my cousin, Chris weeks before I had to go though this made us all realize: life is short; live life for now, don’t live life with regrets which greatly helped with confidence of being in a new country alone without knowing anyone. Before heading to Miami the family and I head out on probably the most memorable holiday heading to Boston, New York and New England which was greatly enjoyable and was nice for family to be there to help me adjust whilst I was moving into the University.
- Experiencing a different culture – on numerous occasions I was asked how America differed from the UK. The main differences I found were people being much more open and up-front in America which strangely most Americans thought I was crazy for saying. Another major difference I noticed was the size of roads and cars (larger in America)… I particularly enjoyed orientation week which involved activities other than drinking, whilst UK universities focus on getting super drunk to meet new people.
- CORPS society – before leaving a student at Lancaster who had previously been to UM recommended I find this society. This was definitely the highlight of my time in Miami including many outdoor trips such as parasailing, cycling, kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding and more. This society definitely built most of my fondest memorises of Miami! 🙂
- Sports games – having never really been to sports games in the UK I really enjoyed tailgating at UM football games and going to Miami Heat basketball games. Though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the stop start feel to American football and the fact that it lasts 4 hours!
- The sunshine – unexpected considering I burn so easily but I definitely grew to love the sun; it hugely improves your attitude for the day! 😀
- New friends, bonfires on the beach, regular visits to the beach meeting new friends, cruising in a convertible Mustang GT down Ocean drive, fantasy fest at key west, watching Lupe Fiasco perform and many many more!!!
The hardest part?
- Post Graduate level classes – I found it initially odd that I was being told to match classes back at Lancaster to graduate level classes in America. I found that all classes in america go into a lot more detail than at home but equally the style of teaching is hugely different. Most of my professors taught of the top of their heads with reference to websites which made it difficult to study for final exams especially if you struggled to follow during class. I also noticed that professors have a lot more power on class content, whether to do exams, how to do exams and generally due to his things are a lot less structured.
- Finals weeks – definitely one of the most stressful weeks I’ve ever experienced with many late nights and manic panic. This is due to classes not being so structured as over here as such professors don’t check that finals don’t fall on the same day so you typically end up with 5 pieces of work all due within a period of 3 days, but work hard and party harder 😀
What would I do differently if I had the opportunity?
- Wait until I’m 21 – I feel like a lot of the exchange people were over 21, particularly my friends anyway, with this I ended up missing out on a lot of nights out and experiencing a more adventurous outdoorsy Miami instead of crazy night life which I definitely enjoyed though it would have been nice to experience more of the night life. Though there’s still things to do which I actually found more enjoyable: beach, bonfires, sports games and house parties.
- Find someone with a car or get my own – everything in America is so far away a car is almost a must. Towards the end of the semester I came good friends with Nikkii (http://instagram.com/nikkiibeachh) who had a car which lead to many trips to the beach, which was one of the highlights of my last few weeks and I’m hugely grateful to her for that… So if you ever need a taxi, call her up: “Nikkii’s chauffeur service”.
Did it cost more than staying in the UK, yes, probably about £2000 more but Miami is a private university so some costs are higher than they may be elsewhere. There are things you have to pay for, like the health insurance, room and lodging. I took the 14 meal plan, self catering isn’t an option and the accommodation is dearer than back at home. You also need insurance to cover your travel as that won’t be covered by the university health insurance. You can claim some expenses back from the government, and may be able to get a grant for study abroad which will help. Of course you have to take advantage of the opportunities offered so will spend more. Books are expensive and beware if you do go to night clubs some charge the earth for drinks and your UK card will flag it as a unusual transaction…
Would I do it again? Within a heart beat. Take the risk: life without risks leaves you no where, you’ll never know what could have happened had you done it and hey what’s the worst that can happen.
Miami; until we meet again! 🙂
Ps. Many thanks for those of you who read my articles 🙂 they serve as a great memory for me but I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them. I aim to continue to update the blog but with computer related articles.