With me heading back to Denver after being back in Scotland for Christmas, I think it’s about time I looked back at my first quarter at DU and how I coped with the problems studying abroad can throw at you. Oh and of course tell you about all the fun I had along the way!!
If you are like me and grew up in the same town all your life, moving to Glasgow for university was a big deal, so studying abroad was a major deal! When I first applied, I remember worrying about being away from home, because even when I moved up to Glasgow, my home town was only an hour away, and I saw my family and friends most weekends. Being in a completely different country and time zone clearly makes that impossible, and it was something that took some adjusting to, but here’s how I worked round that problem.
1. FaceTime and Skype are amazing – and in my opinion, are a million times better than just a phone call. During my first quarter, I would FaceTime my family 1-2 times a week, meaning I kept up with what was going on at home and I didn’t feel at all as far away from them as I actually was.
2. At DU, international students stay in a double dorm room, so company is never far away. This is such a good thing, especially in the first few weeks when you’re adjusting to being away from home.
3. I kept myself busy with clubs. I personally chose to join women’s rugby (mostly because it forced me to go to the gym to work off all the junk food I’d been eating!)
4. I spoke to other international students about missing home!! Every international student is in the same boat being so far away from home, so you’re not alone. The other international students are you’re adopted family for the year, and talking it out with them helps a tonne.
Another problem I faced was adjusting to the different academic standard and style of teaching. Professors in the US expect engagement in classes and opinions to be expressed. This is definitely not how things are done in Glasgow, so it took a bit of adjusting to. Here’s how I did it:
1. I did my readings for the class. The professor will usually set recommended readings for the class, and they’ll discuss the text in class, so doing it is definitely worth the time. This is for arts and humanities subjects in particular.
2. I did things when I got them (mostly)! I’m a major procrastinator, so when I have an assignment due, I’m generally found doing it an hour before its due. I tried my very best to kick this habit, because with the workload in the US, it’s just not possible to succeed and leave things to the last minute.
SO with the negative stuff out the way, I’m going to tell you about the highlights of my first quarter! Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a huge list, I’ll name my top three!
My favourite thing I’ve done so far by a long shot is going to a cabin up in the Rocky Mountains for a weekend. For those of you who haven’t even heard of Denver never mind know anything about it, the city is just a half hour drive from the foot of the Rockies, so heading to the mountains to hike is easy enough. So knowing this, 19 of us decided to head up into the mountains for a weekend away from studying and to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer. The cabin we rented was about 2 hours away from Denver, and the drive there was the most scenic drive I’ve ever been on! Every corner we went round there was another stunning view that we were speechless at. It was also something that made us realise how lucky we had it living in a Colorado for a year. We also went a hike on the Saturday in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and again, everywhere you turned, the view was breathtaking. I think it’s one of those things you can’t properly explain to someone, they have to experience it for themselves.
Number two on my list is baseball games. Because the baseball season finishes in early October, I only made it to two. And I know, if can be compared to a very big game of rounders, but it’s not just the actual sport that is appealing though, the atmosphere and general feel of being there is brilliant!
Number three on my list is definitely a concert at Red Rocks amphitheatre. I mentioned it in an earlier blog so I won’t bore you with the details of it again, but it is a major ‘must do’ when in Denver!
So I hope my blog didn’t bore you too much and gave you some useful advice for adjusting to life outside of Scotland. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a message on Facebook or send me an email and I’ll be happy to help!