It was just after our evening meal when Steve drove me and the other international students to Target.
I remember not being too overly-enthused by his suggestion to go. Don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful for Steve to take us, as only being able to bring one suitcase from England meant I had a lot to buy.
I had arrived in America in the late afternoon the day before, after travelling over nine hours by plane and car, then the day before that a three-hour journey to my hotel outside Heathrow Airport in London.
I had also been up since six o’clock that morning in order to attend the activities set out for us all day. Needless to say, I was exhausted, and at this point I’d have rather gone to bed than on a shopping spree.
But Steve had been so kind to us, and the other international students were so enthusiastic and excited, that they managed to lift my sour, jet-lagged mood into higher spirits. I look back now at this memory and am thankful that I went on this car ride, as it was an experience I will never forget.
The weather had been around 95 degrees Fahrenheit that day, which I find important to mention as anyone who knows a British person will know that we are all obsessed with talking about the weather!
When we ventured out to Target, the air was still humid, but the sun was beginning to set. While we drove and the other internationals talked animatedly in the back seats, I gazed sleepily out of the car window.
What should be understood is I do not come from a place of great beauty. My hometown in England is a city called Birmingham—home to the Industrial Revolution and Ozzy Osbourne.
Although Birmingham is a fun place to live and I am proud to say I’m from there, “pretty” is one of the last words I would use to describe it.
So when I found myself gazing at these stunning homes that looked like they could be doll’s houses, gigantic hills covered with more trees than I had ever seen in my entire life, and a sunset that cast the scenery in dim, amber light, I had an epiphany.
I finally understood all those stories I’d heard about people crying at the sight of the Northern Lights or at the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in the Vatican City.
Although New Hampshire is arguably not as famous as these things, and as cheesy as this may sound, seeing it for the first time touched this Birmingham girl’s heart more than words can express.
I’m just glad I had my sunglasses on at the time, so the others never noticed how emotional I was getting!
I have now been here two months, yet I have already accumulated so many wonderful experiences.
I have visited Vermont where I went on a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s factory and tried a sample of their upcoming ice cream flavor (which was delicious)!
The other exchange students and I also went on a huge retail therapy spree, although Keene is wonderful in many ways, the shopping experience here could be better!
I have been to Portsmouth beach, where despite managing to cut my toe open on a sharp rock, I still had a great day of paddling in the ocean and eating lobster meat sandwiches.
I marvelled at the University of Amherst, Massachusetts where their football pitch alone is bigger than this entire college.
At one point, my friends showed a building which reminded me of the English block of flats we have for housing hundreds of people. When they told me it was just their library, my mouth dropped open. Twenty floors of books for someone who is studying Creative Writing like me is paradise on Earth.
Other smaller experiences I have had include carving my first pumpkin and trying root beer, beef jerky and peanut butter for the first time, which most American students seem to be horrified about when I tell them that these products are either unpopular or non-existent in England.
I have also been sharing a room with someone for the first time in twelve years. It was something I had been nervous about for months before, but luckily she turned out to be a very warm and sweet person.
I still have much to look forward to during my stay in the U.S. I have trips to Washington D.C., Boston and New York planned, and I am also very excited for my first Thanksgiving.
Any KSC students who are considering studying abroad themselves, I urge them to take the opportunity.
Studying in America has not only been a dream come true for me, but phenomenal fun!