Study Abroad: “I know Megan is here because I heard her accent”

I had this beautiful vision that I would write a blog post every week detailing the adventures of my year abroad. Seeing as it’s over three weeks since my last post I think it’s clear my blogging dream has not been fulfilled. Sometimes life just isn’t interesting enough to write about. Or at least dedicate an entire post to it.

Orientation week was definitely not exciting enough to dedicate an entire post to it. No offence to Wilkes University Orientation creators, it’s just really hard to make plagiarism and general university etiquette that interesting when you’ve already experienced two years of it.

There was a pretty in-depth presentation on consent and sexual harassment which is something missing from Birmingham, so several gold stars to Wilkes for that.

They also told us that American’s don’t like to be touched, they worship their schedule as if it were a religion and if you’re late to a class the professor will hate you until the end of time. I’m a little bit suspicious about all of these. Mainly because I’ve hugged so many people and I’m yet to see my roommates do any form of worship towards a schedule. I haven’t been late to a class yet so I haven’t had the opportunity to try the last one out.

They also gave us free cake and took us to theme park so I guess there was some excitement. The theme park itself was lowkey terrifying – mainly because it felt like you were going to fly from the rollercoaster seat and fall to the ground at any moment.

Nothing like the fear of death when you’re being transported on a wooden track at rapid speed.

Orientation week was actually really warm. As in, so warm I might actually melt. Seeing as I had packed for the chilly winter, I really was not prepared. The intense humidity actually resulted in a tornado warning – something I was not prepared to experience or witness.

Wilkes-Barre itself isn’t that interesting. Apparently it’s a city, but I’m suspicious. Maybe I was spoiled by living in the second biggest city in the UK but you definitely have to find your own form of entertainment here. That involved a lot of Netflix in the first week, let me tell you, I’ve arguably watched too many episodes of Friends. Now that classes have actually started I’m not doing so much of that.

Although there’s nothing to do here, Wilkes University is made up of old stately mansions which means it looks beautiful. There are Instagram and photography opportunities everywhere, which is always a great time.

Pennsylvania itself is actually really pretty too. There are trees and mountains everywhere and I just want to explore all of them.

Except I won’t because it’s probably really dangerous or something.

A big change in my life has been my diet. Turns out, vegetarianism isn’t that big here and for the first week I literally lived off pasta, pizza and salad. By the end of my third week in the US I had eaten my first piece of meat in two years.

What a dramatic moment.

It actually wasn’t that dramatic but I felt pretty guilty because the intensive farming process of chicken is AWFUL and HORRIFIC. However since that moment I have eaten many meals that have included meat – a girl needs variety in her meals y’know?

Now the main reason I’m actually living in a different country for 10 months: Education.

I’m taking four classes: American Literature II, African American Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Comparative Politics. I’m currently enjoying all them which is wonderful.

One thing that isn’t so wonderful? The fact it feels like I’m back in secondary school all over again. For the next year I won’t attend a single lecture or seminar because I’m being taught in a classroom.

The assessment style feels very much like my school experience too. After two years of having to hand in approximately 6 essays and complete 4 exams each year, this American testing system is a shock let me tell you. By the halfway point of this semester I will have already completed more assessed work than I ever had to do back home in one year.

Now I finally get those memes about American college kids complaining about their education.

In terms of meeting new people my accent is a really good aid. In my first two classes I befriended at least six people because they heard me speak. As someone who is awkward and hates small talk, I really don’t mind this part of my American experience.

Ultimately the reason I hadn’t written anything in the past three weeks is because I felt like nothing had happened… until last week. Club day finally arrived and now began the time of joining everything and anything – I am basically a fresher again, it’s pretty much my job to do this. I’m also extremely desperate to make friends and be busy at all times.

Not surprising anyone, I signed up for the newspaper and the choral club. I like to sing and write okay? Choral club is where it really got interesting. So, I attended the rehearsal on Thursday (four hours after signing the sign up sheet) and the next thing I knew I was on a yellow American school bus, holding my pillow and travelling to a town called Bloomsburg on a choral retreat.

I know, how did this happen?

To be honest I’m not entirely sure, but it’s not like I had weekend plans so I agreed to go. I spent my weekend singing and trying to befriend new people in a church. I think I did okay. I managed to find a sofa and didn’t end up sleeping on a hard floor so all in all a successful weekend. I also had to sing in German. I don’t speak German, I don’t know how to pronounce German but all the same I gave it my best shot.

I’m actually so excited to be in the choir. Not only does it give me something to do every Tuesday and Thursday but everyone seems so lovely and the idea of becoming friends with them is so exciting. I also get to spend three hours a week singing which is always a good time.

I went to the first newspaper meeting this week, and I naturally went to join the news team because where else would I go? I have my first article to write on Wednesday and I’m so hyped because it’s not really university unless I’m stressing about work whilst writing a news article.

Now that I’ve joined the choir and the paper, Wilkes is finally starting to feel like a place where I belong. As lovely as the past few weeks have been, something just hasn’t been right. Redbrick and G&S were such big parts of my life at Birmingham, it’s only right that I find the equivalent here. I’m so ready to over commit myself, no matter how much I might hate it when I’m swamped with work during mid-term and finals week.

To finish this unnecessary long post that says a lot about a little, here’s a fun photo collection of the people that have made the past few weeks less lonely. As much as I keep talking about desperately needing to make friends, that does not mean I have spent the past three weeks eating lunch alone and crying in my dorm room.

Of course I miss everyone back home and sometimes find myself staring at my photo wall but I have been eating with other humans, hanging out with people in their apartments, and even went to a free concert and enjoyed the best free ice-cream I have ever consumed.

All is well, I’m just overly excited about meeting new people.


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