This is a student’s experience of their time spent studying abroad. If you want to find out more come to the iZone this week, or visit The Atrium, 1st Floor, University Place. Or email the study abroad team on: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit their twitter or Facebook page or Pinterest. You can also come to the Study Abroad Fair on Tuesday 4th November, 12-4pm in Academy 2, Students’ Union.
“Before I had even started at Manchester I knew I wanted to study abroad. In fact, the huge range of places on offer was a large factor in my decision to come here. As my degree is three years, I was only able to go away for a semester, but what a fantastic time I had!
I was delighted to get my first choice destination of Wellesley College which is situated a few miles outside of Boston, MA. I really wanted to be able to study at a place that was totally different to Manchester and Wellesley was certainly that! For a start, Wellesley is a women’s college and therefore has a very female focused environment, something I really liked about studying there. Wellesley has a number of famous alumni such as Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright so being able to learn in the same environment as them was hugely inspiring. I also loved the other student’s enthusiasm and dedication to learn and found that it really helped motivate me. Another big change was the number of students. Wellesley has a student body over 15 times smaller than Manchester. This was a bit of a shock at first, having been used to being in lecture theatres with over 300 students to going to classrooms with only 10. However after I had time to adjust, I found the smaller class sizes meant that I was able to interact with the lecturers much more and therefore become much more involved and informed on the subjects. Studying at Wellesley was tough as the work load was a lot higher than at Manchester. Testing was continuous throughout the term with problem sets, essays and mid-terms which meant that you didn’t have much time to relax. On the other hand this did also mean that by the time finals came, there was not as much pressure as the exams were only worth at the most 30% of my overall grade. This was a big variation from Manchester where many of my modules had been totally dependent on the final test.
Wellesley’s campus is also very different. It is huge with a forest, observatory and even a lake. When the weather finally warmed up (I was there for one of the worst winters North America has had for many years!), you were able to take sailing boats and canoes out on the lake, something I loved doing. I found walking around the campus very calming and a welcome break from the stresses of work. Before going to Wellesley, I was worried that I would miss living in a city as I have always done so. However there always seemed to be things happening on campus. From films at the college cinema to sushi making classes, book binding workshops to talks at the onsite art gallery, the area was always a hive of activity. This was very welcome during the early months of my time there as the freezing cold weather made making the trip into Boston not very temping. However when I did finally make my way into Boston, I absolutely loved it. It is a wonderful city with a wealth of history and culture. There are a huge array of places and things to see and do such as walking the Freedom Trail across the city, trying a Boston cream pie from the Omni Parker Hotel and a cannoli from Mike’s Pasty and going to the Kennedy Presidential Library in Columbia Point. I also found my new favourite shop, David’s Tea, which is tea shop that sells one of the biggest ranges of tea I have ever seen. They are all over North America and I made sure to stock up on all my favourite types before I returned. Boston is also home to the Flour Bakery which served the most delicious food. I become slightly addicted to their signature sticky buns! They were amazing.
Across the Charles River is the city of Cambridge which is home to two of the world’s best universities; Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I had the fantastic opportunity to take a course at MIT as it is one of Wellesley’s partner schools. Studying there was much more similar to being at Manchester, with big lecture halls and tutorials. I took a philosophy course there called Paradox and Infinity, not really knowing what to expect. What I found was a course that was very interesting but also very difficult as it contained a lot of maths. I had to learn how to code a Turing machine, something I really didn’t expect to be doing in philosophy!
One of my favourite days while being at Wellesley was the day of the Boston Marathon known as Marathon Monday. Wellesley is famous for its Scream Tunnel, where students line the section of the course that passes next to the college grounds to cheer on those taking part. Many runners say that running past Wellesley is the best part of the route. Classes are stopped for the day and the college also puts on a barbeque in the afternoon, so it is a great time to relax and just hang out with your friends. Another fantastic opportunity I had was to take part in Get on the Bus for Human Rights. It is an event set up by Amnesty International with the members of the different groups from across the east coast of America going to New York to protest against human rights violations outside of the UN and a number of embassies. As I have been involved in Amnesty for many years, I joined the group at Wellesley and met a number of great people there who I am sure I will stay friends with for many years. A number of us drove down to New York for the day and had a great time campaigning and enjoying the city.
After finishing my time at Wellesley, I also spent a month travelling which was incredible and really helped develop my confidence and independence. First I went to Canada and spent some time in Montreal, Toronto and Niagara. Each place was very different from the others and wonderful in its own way. I met so many more great people during this time and it has really inspired me to travel more in the future. I then went back into America (by taking a 14 hour bus ride!), met up with my boyfriend and we travelled along the east coast stopping at Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. This was another fantastic experience as we got to see so many iconic places and landmarks. It is not possible to single out a highlight during my time travelling as everyday was so amazing. I just want to go again!
I loved my study abroad experience and would recommend it to anybody who has the opportunity to do the same. I really feel that my time in America has helped me grow as a person, allowed me to make some wonderful new friends and opened my eyes to the huge number of opportunities you can discover outside of the UK.”
Olivia Stevens, The University of Manchester