Hey everyone! Get ready to be sad (great way to start the blog, I know!). This will be my last blog post in America, I have less than a week at UMBC!! The time has gone crazily fast and this whole year has flown by. But I’ve had such an incredible time here; UMBC was definitely the best place I could have spent this year. I’m really going to miss it. But I have a lot of really good friends here so a visit back is definitely on the cards for the future; one of my friends has already invited me back to UMBC for her graduation this winter! Leaving will definitely be strange, probably the hardest part of this whole experience.
It’s been a good semester, my classes were really interesting and the option of an elective module allowed me to study something I hadn’t had the chance to focus on in my degree. I took The Roman World, an Ancient History class, but I could have selected anything, from any subject or level, offered by the university. I’d definitely advise upcoming students to take the opportunity to do something that really interests them but that they maybe haven’t had the chance to learn much about before. I’ve also had the chance to try new things. I was the vice president of the History Student Council which was a really fun role and gave me more experience into being an officer of a different club and the responsibilities that come with it. I also joined the Intervarsity International Students group, a Bible study group mainly for students from abroad, which was a really great way to meet other international students at the university. There aren’t very many people studying abroad at UMBC so this was a really good chance to meet more people from other countries. I spent Spring Break in Annapolis with my Dad’s colleague and his wife, it was a really great holiday. Although the weather was still colder than I would have liked (it snowed at Easter!!), I had a great time and really got a chance to know the city. We even went on a colonial themed tour which I loved every second of! 😀
I spent Easter with them as well, which was very nice. I went on an Easter Egg Hunt with their five-year-old granddaughter, who also taught me ballet, which was something I had not expected to get out of an American Studies degree!
Not all of this semester has been fun though, I’ve had a lot of work; it seems like more than last semester. Or at least, it all seemed to be due at the same time, which was very annoying and meant I had to spend a lot of time working. There were a couple of really stressful weeks where I spent the whole time revising and hardly had any time to see friends. But it all went OK, and though I did have a lot of work, it wasn’t too bad or overwhelming for the most part.
But now that exams are done, I have more fun plans. I’m spending a few days with my amazing roommate, Sarah in Frederick, then seeing another friend called Sarah and we’ll be spending the day in DC pretending to be spies!! (At the International Spy Museum, we aren’t infiltrating Langley…as far as you know…) And visiting the National History Museum (my favourite of the Smithsonian’s museums). Then I’ll be visiting my friend (and next year’s President of the Ancient Studies Council!), Irene, in St Mary’s County where we’ll be visiting a colonial re-enactment town. I am so excited; I’m going back in time to my favourite period of history (sort of, anyway)!! So get ready for a load of pictures from that in my next blog! I might be seeing Tess too! Basically, I’m going round Maryland, completely relying on the kindness of my friends. But it’ll be good to see as many people as I can before I leave!
Also, last week I went to the Arbutus Art Festival, it was so good! Arbutus is a really nice walk from UMBC, about ten minutes away and a really nice chance to see American-style architecture, especially if it’s a sunny day. I went there to see Sarah sing and she was amazing!! Everyone check her out, I’ll leave a link to her Facebook page, she’s recording an EP this summer which will be amazing! And I discovered an amazing painter, her work is incredibly colourful and uplifting, I’ll leave a link to her website too, its definitely worth a look! Some other recommendations: The National Aquarium in Baltimore is fantastic, the tickets can be pricey – normally $40 – but I went on a trip organised by the UMBC apartments that only charged $55. Honestly, I’d recommend it with the full price, I’m not that interested in fish but there were some amazing exhibits and it was such a fun day. I also got to see dolphins which made me incredibly happy and smile for the rest of the day! 😀 😀 I also went hiking at the Great Falls Park in Virginia which was awesome! The park was beautiful and the walk was so much fun. Turns out I like hiking! Who knew?! Not me!
Sarah Beth Driver: https://www.facebook.com/sarahbdriver/
Linda Atkinson: https://laartandsoul.com/
Then I’m heading to New York City to start another trip like the one I went on before with a different company that offers group trips from people ages eighteen to thirty nine. I’m really looking forward to it; we go from New York to Boston, to Quebec City, to Montreal to Toronto (via Ottawa). I’m so excited to see Canada, particularly Montreal as my grandparents met there and my Mum was born in the city. I’m planning to go to McGil University where they met, and to climb Mount Royal (which the city is named after) as well as visit the European-style cobbled streets and castles that set Quebec apart from the rest of North America. It will be fascinating to see this part of my heritage and see how Canada – a place I’ve never visited before – differs from the United States.
I am looking forward to going home though – I’m flying back to London from Toronto. I’ve actually been feeling a bit homesick for the past few weeks. It was a weird time to suddenly start missing home; I’d been fine for the past eight months and then it suddenly hit. I think it was planning to come home, booking my plane ticket, planning what to pack, looking to ship my suitcase back home, it felt like I should have been going back to the UK then and there, not four weeks later. It was a weird sensation and it came back on my last day of UMBC when I was packing up to leave. That was not a fun day. I’m not sure why, but the last day you could leave campus was on the same day as the last day of exams, so there was so much going on. I packed up all my stuff in the morning but it was very stressful getting it into my suitcase as I had way more souvenirs than I had expected (my suitcase is ¾ souvenirs and just ¼ clothes)! So I hope everyone likes their presents!! I got to meet up with a friend for lunch that day which was very much needed as I was extremely stressed. And I had gone to a Barbeque hosting by some other people living in the apartments the night before which was a lot of fun! After lunch, I had my exam which went better than I had expected, and finished packing. I kept finding more stuff I needed to throw out so it seemed like a never ending job. Advice: start packing early! And make sure you have everything, or at least know where everything is! But I got it all sorted in the end and was very happy to get some sleep that night at Sarah’s house.
When I get home, I’m planning on staying in Devon for a while, though I’d like to visit my family in the South East of England as well. I would also love to see my friends in Swansea (and Swansea itself, I’ve missed it – especially the beach). I’m heading to London sometime in July to begin volunteering at a few history museums which I am very excited about, then spending some more time at home before going back to Swansea to start my last year.
I really can’t tell you how fast this year has gone, it’s sped by so quickly. So, some more advice for all those thinking of studying abroad: make the most of every minute, it’ll be over before you know it.
I’m planning on writing again after I get home to tell you all about my trip and what it’s like to be back in the UK (I’m suspecting it will be very odd after a year away, and knowing my luck, probably pouring with rain). So I’ll see you all again soon.