I chose to study aboard because it was something I always dreamt of. Living in another country and having the chance to explore a different lifestyle was always something that fascinated me. University life is different for everyone and listening to my friends in America talk about their university life sounded so different to mine. I had friends who did a semester aboard and they told me it was the best experience of their life and I wanted to see if it was true.
I wanted to go to America because it is advertised around the world, whether it is through films, advertisement or other types of media it was something I really wanted to do.
Also I hoped to gain different kinds of skills that I could bring back with me. I wanted to learn different ways of studying, new programming skills which we didn't have here, and to embrace different cultures and most of all to be more independent. I also hoped to become more confident in myself and in the career I want to go into. I was going to a place where I didn't know anyone and I was put in a strange town where I had to find my way around. At the beginning I found it hard but my time there brought me great confidence and improved my creativity, my communication skills and made me not be afraid to ask for help.
I attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. The university campus was well spread out, there were 27 restaurants including late-night options with many choices so you never get bored of eating the same thing. I lived on campus in an apartment which I shared with one other person. The apartment included a kitchen, a living area, a bathroom and two bedrooms. I enjoyed where I lived because it was very open and easy to make friends. The university also had a big arena where all the sporting activities are held where I went to a lot of college basketball games and football games - the atmosphere was amazing and you could really feel the team spirit.
One of the best things about living in Arizona was that it gave me the chance to do lots of travelling. I went to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Four Corners, Horseshoe Bend and many more while I was there.
The American education system is slightly different to the UK as it is much more productive with weekly quizzes and weekly presentations. I found the assignments easier if you kept up with the work load as they had to be submitted every week or every other week.
From my five months in America I learnt the importance of independence. It was really scary getting on the plane going to a brand new place where I didn’t know anyone. I had to use my own initiative to find my way around and follow instructions of where I needed to be. The first few days were quite tough finding my way to the international orientation as the campus felt so big. But after a couple of days I knew my way around and had friends to help me.
The semester taught me the importance of confidence and in order to get through I had to put myself out there, go to events and make friends. Even in class I had to push myself a little bit more and not be afraid to ask questions when I didn’t understand.
I would definitely recommend doing a semester aboard because it is a one in a life time experience where you can meet lots of people and study in a new environment. I had the time of my life and would happily do it all over again.