When opportunity knocks on your door, only a fool turns it down. So here I am studying on the other side of the Atlantic and let me tell you darling, it is FAB-U-LOUS! It’s definitely not a “party in the USA” but that’s not what I came here for either.
I stepped foot on Southern USA soil August 13th 2014 full of nervous optimism, greeted by a sweltering sunny day and a cheery International study abroad coordinator. It felt surreal. All the talking had come down to living somewhere I hadn’t been to before, and in all honesty, I hadn’t heard too many great things about Mississippi either. But that’s the thing about first impressions- they can be proved wrong and only a fool makes judgments on the opinions of another. The first few days were definitely a sink or swim situation- you have to wear a smile and make the effort of reaching out to people. We were thrown in at the deep end but I managed to breast stroke out of it and I gradually got into a routine with all my classes and a great diverse friendship group. I befriended people in my classes and I’m not oblivious that my accent sticks out like a sore thumb but some people really took to it way more than I ever imagined! It was popular in England but watching people swoon over it made my day and gave me a giggle or too! Some just want to say “I have a friend in England” and ya know that’s SOOO fine with me. Fifteen minutes of fame and all! I was overwhelmed by how nice people were and still are to me. Southern hospitality definitely exists. They want you to enjoy yourself. They want you to be happy. They want you to be comfortable. It was beautifully cute when people tried to impress me with their knowledge of my country.
Here and Now.
Two months later and I’m still enjoying it. The workload is quite something but I know I am very hard on myself and that I definitely over think it all. I’m doing well in my classes, some are more interesting than others but I’m enjoying the whole experience all the same. I love it here, I really do. Yes I miss England. A lot. But not enough to leave the life I have here any sooner then I have to. I’m not a fan of American football but I’m hoping to watch other sports in the second semester that have more flow and don’t last for four hours! Of course nothing will ever match (slight pun, hope y’all get it) my love of the Barclays Premier League. My hometown team Leicester City were promoted to the top division this year and it was just my luck that it would happen the one year I decided to move! But the way they are performing so far it’s looking likely they will still be in the Premiership next year. Anyhow, I’ve met many wonderful people here and I feel settled with my routine. I haven’t made any friends on the same level as last year with my superwoman that is Radhika but I wasn’t looking to replace what I already have either. I have done remarkably well keeping in touch with my English friends, yet life in England feels like it actually was a lifetime ago. (Thank you Mark Zukerberg for letting me spam my social sea of “friends” with my daily experiences).
It’s all about the time.
I’m most certainly more aware of time since I came here. I have a very long bucket list for this little ol’ life of mine and I often fret I won’t get it completed. Yes I’m here to study but this is a ‘YOLO’ opportunity and “I don’t wanna miss a thing!” Having said that I have managed to get some travelling in to New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta and they were all amazing experiences. My Keele friends are here for one semester so it’s my prerogative to meet up with them this side of the Atlantic. I’ve still no idea what career I want to pursue. I don’t feel like I have found my calling yet but I’m not too bothered by it either. I act 25, but my passport reminds me I’m only 19. A baby compared to the average age of students I have met during my time here! I never thought of studying abroad as a “brave” thing to do until someone I really care about brought it to my attention. I suddenly realised what I’d ‘given up,’ for want of a better term, to live this ideal of mine. Obviously it was always on the cards when I chose to embark on a degree in English and American Literature but I was expecting some bad omen to come along and steal my dream from me. But it didn’t! I will miss important birthdays of my best friends. I will miss the experience of second year at Keele. And I will miss many things that may or may not come around again but by not coming here I’d missed out on the most important thing of all: living an American Adventure! Everything happens for a reason and every cloud has a silver lining. And it’s all to do with timing!