Beckie, Graduate Intern for the Study Abroad Office at UEA, details her ongoing travels around a number of our partnered universities in America, providing useful advice for students planning to study in the United States in the near future!
So far on this trip I’ve been to 5 states and I’ve visited 7 universities. What they all have in common is an excellent Study Abroad Office. Everyone I’ve encountered has been friendly and knowledgeable and, best of all, really excited at the prospect of having UEA students attend their university!
Now I know study abroad can be daunting – trust me I’ve been there! The thought of heading off to North Philadelphia for a year nearly bought me out in hives, but I’m here to reassure you that wherever you go, you will be well looked after. The universities I have been visiting in the US all have fabulous welcome events and support for students coming from the UK…just to make your transition that little bit easier!
These services include:
- Airport pickups – most of the universities offer to pick up students from the local airport and bring them to campus. This means that when jet lagged after a days travel, you don’t have to tackle the relatively poor state of American public transport by yourself.
- Orientation – most universities also have orientation programs for new students. These help you to navigate the campus, find your classes, as well as providing support for any other queries about studying abroad that might be terrifying to figure out alone.
So those are the basics…but below is some more specific advice to ensure you really make the most of your experience:
- Safety – safety is always a consideration, especially if you are headed to a big city. Before I prepared myself to study abroad in Philly, my mum was having sleepless nights worrying about my safety. But, safety is taken very seriously in university towns and cities in the US. For instance, when talking to staff at Florida International University in Miami, they told me that they sit students down and talk to them about the good places to go, but also the places to steer clear of! It might seem scary that this briefing is necessary in the first place, but it’s important to know that every city has its rougher parts…even my small town at home! Just see it that the staff are looking out for you, aiming to make sure you have the best possible year abroad experience!
- Trips – even before I arrived here I knew that most universities arrange trips for new international students. Stetson University offer basic trips to the local Walmart for bedding and the like, but also more exciting experiences such as visiting National State Parks and Disneyland – who would want to miss out on that!? My advice is to make the most of all of these opportunities and ensure that you really explore your local area. Make sure to get involved!
- Transport – sometimes it can be hard to get around in the US. Everyone drives and car hire can be an added expense you just don’t want to pay for. However, quite a few of the places I’ve visited have either car shares or places on campus where you can hire a car for a reduced rate. Look into this and make the most of it because there are some truly amazing sights to see in the US, often out of the confines of your campus. During my trip in Florida, I took myself to Blue Springs National Park, just 20 minutes away from Stetson University. Here I saw manatees for the first time and it definitely made my week!
- Free services – these aren’t usually set up exclusively for study abroad students but they are definitely something to take advantage of while you’re here. Eaten a little too much pizza in the canteen recently? Not to worry because every university I’ve been to offers free gym facilities for students! One place I really want to make note of is High Point University in North Carolina – a relatively new partner for us. Their campus is like a small town with no end of free things for you to do. Alongside the exceptional sport facilities that most uni’s offer, they have a free arcade, a free cinema (with snacks included) and free concerts on campus.
Beckie Hallam is a current Graduate Intern for the Study Abroad Office. She graduated from UEA in 2015, studying American History with English History, and spent her year abroad in 2013/14 at Temple University, Philadelphia.