Graduate Intern Amelia makes a case for Albuquerque in New Mexico, attempting to convince more students to study in the dry desert!
My visit to the University of New Mexico (UNM) only lasted 2 days, but in that time I was able to catch up with a UEA American Studies student, Lily. She is currently out on exchange at the university and kindly showed me around the city and the campus. We went for lunch at a Wild West inspired restaurant called Frontier and discussed life as a UNM student.
Lily explained to me that New Mexico was not the original destination she had chosen but having ended up there, she is really enjoying her time in the dry desert, somewhere North of Mexico and East of California.
Over a chicken enchilada with green chilli – the local delicacy that every Uber driver would ask me if I had tried yet – along with candy Braking Bad Crystal Meth, (the answer was no to that one) we chatted about all the reasons why UNM and Albuquerque was a great place for an exchange student to explore for a year.
These are just a few of the things that international students can enjoy:
- There are heaps of free extras such as a city bus pass and access to the gym
- You will meet lots of other international students from the UK and beyond
- There are great accommodation options from university dorms to private facilities close-by to campus. This provides students with many options such as different types of rooms, as well as different price ranges to suit all budgets.
- High altitude, dry, arid conditions in the desert means no frizzy hair! (But definitely stock up on moisturiser or you’ll be walking around looking like a scaly dinosaur)
- The history and culture of New Mexico is rich with heritage of the American Indians and the Wild West. Anyone interested in American Indian History should definitely consider UNM as a great destination to immerse themselves in this aspect of US history – rarely taught in the UK.
- The university regularly holds varsity events against New Mexico State University, providing ample opportunities to get patriotic and support the ‘Lobos’ in the campus stadium.
- The Study Abroad Office at UNM organises frequent trips for international students to local areas of interest, as well as providing a constant base for advice and support to foreign students.
- The university also offers student rental services such as bikes and camping equipment. This means students can explore the local area and take weekend trips at a much lower cost. Furthermore, it means you won’t feel guilty for leaving these possessions behind before the dreaded flight home!
- Albuquerque’s biggest annual event is the Balloon Fiesta that takes place in October. Hundreds of hot balloons of all different shapes and sizes take to the skies over the city and tourists flock to watch this spectacle. By studying at UNM you’ll be able to get a group of friends together and find a good spot to watch this unique event that you’d be unlikely to witness at any other time.
- Albuquerque is also on the historic Route 66, so there is plenty of history and pop culture associated with this. The historic city of Santa Fe is only a short bus journey away, too!
- The city is well connected by the Amtrak railway to LA and Chicago, as well as having an airport which connects across the States.
- The Manhattan Project surrounding the first atomic bomb came to an explosive end in New Mexico, where it was tested in the desert – some more history for anyone interested in the Cold War as it is claimed secrets regarding the bomb were passed between Russian spies in the city!
- A local day trip to White Sands National Monument is a great getaway from Albuquerque. It’s a desert of yep, you guessed it, white sand where people can sledge and hike across the dunes.
I really haven’t covered it all! The library on campus looks like something out of Hogwarts and the Student Centre has pool tables and an arcade. Unfortunately, Albuquerque as a destination is often overlooked, but even the limited amount of time I have spent here proves that it offers such a great study abroad experience for any UEA student travelling to the US.
Amelia Puttock is a Graduate Intern for the Study Abroad Office. She graduated from UEA in 2015 studying Literature and History. Amelia spent her semester abroad at San Francisco State University in 2013/14.