York St.John, England
Do you know that feeling when a dream comes true? This is how it all started for me.
I was in my first year of university or as you guys call it: college! York St. John’s university was great and it was in a city, in York, which I was not used to as I lived in Skegness. It is a small town on the east coast of England. We get tourists visiting quite often and can be very busy.
York was all new and full of surprises, it was time to be independent and take on more responsibilities. I was placed in a house outside of campus, living with three other girls. I know what you are thinking- drama- and, that’s right, there was some of that too.
Mostly we have been having an amazing time. A house full of girls can become the shelter of amazing friendships, fun, laughs and new experiences.
Well I remember that day when I went to university and we were told about the exchange program. The staff gave us information about all the places that we could possibly go to for either a whole year or just one semester. The list was not long, however America had been mentioned in it. Since I was a child, I remember saying to myself that one day I would live in America.
It was a big deal for me then. Movies that my parents and I had watched or what they had been telling me had me all wrapped around the thought of America. Obviously I was burning with curiosity what it would be like to get to live in the states.
Keene was one of the options available as they did exchange programs too. I did some research on all the places, however there was something about Keene that stood out for me.
It may even be the fact that Skye Stephenson actually visited York St. John University and told us all about the campus of Keene State College, the education, student life and Keene itself. The Pumpkin Festival sounded interesting and the beauty of the fall season I thought would be worth seeing.
Of course, I picked Keene and had to go through a lot of paperwork during the application process. I am not going to bore you with all that though, because at the end of that procedure it was time to pack and get on that flight I had been waiting for since I was young.
On the day that I was supposed to leave it all felt like a dream. I could not believe it was actually happening until my driver had put my baggage in the car and told me that we needed to go. I felt my heart beating so fast, excited for what was waiting for me on the other side of the world, and nervous as I was leaving everything and everyone behind. I was ready!
At the airport I met up with a couple of other girls that were doing the exchange program to Keene too, who I travelled with that day. It was a long journey but we got here in the end.
Steve Spiegel [Associate Director of Global Education Office] met us and since the day he did, he helped all the exchange students with getting to learn our way around campus, took us shopping to get things that we needed, and took us canoeing (which I was nervous about, but I enjoyed so much).
Therefore, I do not have enough words to explain how thankful I am to Steve Spiegel for all his help! All throughout the semester he helped us with classes, organizing activities and so much more.
The beginning of this semester has been amazing! Keene is different in its own way and the people here are incredibly friendly. It is like they all try to help you, and I guess the British accent helps a little as well. I met some wonderful people, learned so much about the education here, the culture, words used that are new to us and most of all, built some lifelong friendships.
I had been invited to peoples’ houses, been taken out for shopping, for food (the American style) and taken on trips to visit places and a lot more. I had an amazing time over the Pumpkin Festival weekend and actually carved my first pumpkin ever in Keene.
We do carve pumpkins in England, but I always let someone do it for me. Then Halloween was an unforgettable night. It was very eventful and was nice to see how it is celebrated here.
In November we organized a bonfire night for the students of KSC. It is a British tradition and we wanted to share it with our peers here. Then the weekend after, the other exchange student and I planned a weekend in New York City. We had an incredible time over there and the super tall buildings were overwhelming.
It was a great experience and I hope to have many more before the end of this semester. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next, as we do not celebrate that in England. Overall my time has been magical and I am not looking forward to leave in December, as I will be leaving some incredible people and a beautiful place. This is all a dream come true for me!