from Manchester to the Mid-West…

by Victoria Rowlands – The University of Missouri – Columbia

Hello from a very cold University of Missouri-Columbia! I’ve been here for two weeks and still can’t accept just how cold it is! On my very first day in Columbia I woke up to find a foot of snow outside the window, and this is something which has become a recurring pattern over the past couple of weeks. The temperatures have gotten as low as -17c, but according to many of the Missouri natives I’ve spoken to, that’s considered to be relatively warm for winter. When I return to Manchester I don’t think I’ll be moaning about the cold as much anymore…

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the six pillars of Mizzou!

I’m quite surprised that me and Maddie (the other GA at Mizzou) are the first people to contribute towards this blog from Missouri, as there are soooo many Manchester students here on exchange! There are 19 semester-long exchange students here, and over half of us are from Manchester, in addition to the Manchester students who are here on the year-long exchange. It’s been quite nice having a common bond with most people here, and I definitely think that it’s helped me to settle in easier than if I was here 100% by myself. However, we all get on really well with the other exchange students from Australia, Chile, Norway and Sweden, and we’ve developed a little bit of a clique, simply because we’re all going through the same experiences, and understand what it’s like to be a stranger in the middle of the USA. Now that I have experience of being classed as an “International Student”, I feel more empathetic towards the international students studying at Manchester, and how hard it must be for them to break free from the international groups which they created during fresher’s week and talk to non-international students, with whom they may not share the same language or culture.

The past two weeks have flown by so quickly.  We had an orientation week when we first arrived here, and then the last week has been “syllabus week”, which is similar to back home, where lecturers mainly outline what will be covered in their classes. So, although we haven’t really been exposed to much teaching as of yet, it’s been nice having these two weeks to take things easy, and to settle into the swing of things here. I think everybody on exchange here from Manchester assumed that it would be relatively easy to adapt to life in the US, given the close similarities in our language and culture, but it has definitely been harder than we anticipated, especially in terms of all the little things. For example, back in Manchester, I’m so reliant on public transport and walking, as are most people, however here, it’s virtually impossible to get around without a car. The main shopping mall and supermarkets are on the outskirts of the city, and there aren’t any buses which go there directly from the centre of the city, so you have to befriend Americans who own a car to take you there. Luckily, they all seem happy to oblige when I promise to give them some Cadburys Dairy Milk. There’s a pretty nice supermarket about a 15 minute walk away from campus, but you have to cross a pretty busy road to get there, which is harder than it seems because there’s no pedestrian crossing, but at the same time it’s illegal to jaywalk across the road! It’s the little things like that which I think make the transition between cultures difficult, because you aren’t sure what to do in the situation, and you don’t want to ask somebody for help, because it’s such a silly, relatively insignificant thing to get stuck on. But fortunately everybody here is so ridiculously nice, and willing to help you, and will actively go out of their way to do so.

One of the other main differences between the US and UK is definitely the whole aspect of sharing a room with somebody else. I was a little wary of sharing a room at first, given that the majority of students living in university accommodation are freshman aged 18-19, and I will be turning 21 in two months, so there would be something of an age and maturity gap. I’m also quite a quiet person, and love having the privacy and time to myself which comes hand in hand with having your own bedroom. My roommate has been away on a trip for most of the past fortnight, so I haven’t yet experienced the “full roommate” experience, but I think it will be alright. There’s so much going on, both socially and academically that at the moment I’m only really using my room as a place to sleep, and haven’t really been spending that much time in it. My roommate, and everybody else on the floor seems super lovely though, and everyone’s so keen to learn more about both myself and the UK, which is so nice. I’m asked on a daily basis to say words like “vitamin” and “aluminium”, and everybody is so impressed when I tell them that I’ve driven down Penny Lane in Liverpool (off of The Beatles)!

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my (messy) side of the room

 

I’m going to leave this post here for now, as the internationals are going for dinner! I know it sounds cliche, but I’ve eaten so many burgers and bowls of Mac and Cheese since I arrived in the US, but IT’S JUST SO GOOD. Thank goodness then, that Mizzou’s gym is right next to my accommodation, and that it’s apparently the best gym in the entire country…

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typical lunch for me…

 

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