How do I summarise and reflect on my experiences over the last 6-7 months? I really don’t know, but I’m going to try.
Firstly, I want to thank all the people (who probably won’t read this) that made my experience so amazing. Not only the friends I made, but also the strangers that showed me so much kindness and friendliness. People internationally have a stereotype that Americans are arrogant, rude and self-centered. From what I observed, those were definitely in the minority. Most Americans, especially in the South and Mid-West, were so welcoming and genuinely curious about us as Australians. Ironically, I often felt embarrassment at the behaviour of Australians when overseas – we have a tendency to be loud, obnoxious and culturally insensitive.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t have longer to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to come home, but I think that the U.S. is so big and diverse, you just can’t cover it in such a short time. I’d love to take half a year in the future to drive around, and see the whole country. I’ve been to 15 of the states – there is still a lot more to see within those states, as well as all the others!
Another note I want to make is on traveling with a group of people. Honestly, it’s incredibly complicated when there are more than 3-4 people I would say. You tend to separate and form mini groups, and there is more conflict. While I adore each and every girl I traveled with, it was difficult to maintain a positive, open minded and excited perspective when effected by the moods and attitudes of the people around you. Further more, everyone has different interests and motivations for traveling – so find the people most like you and travel with them!
Summarising my experience at an American university, I’m both impressed and confused by the education system. Never thought I’d say this, but I love the frequent homework and assignments. It means I have to keep up to date (something I certainly don’t do back home) which means I don’t end up cramming like a psycho on caffeine at the end of semester. Also, all the assessments have a lower weighting which means if you do badly on one, it’s not the end of the world. Something I don’t like (and I also can’t believe I’m saying this) is the easiness with which they hand out A grades. I think it gives people a false sense of accomplishment. If half the class is receiving As and A+s, how do you distinguish the truly gifted students? I just think those grades should be reserved for truly excellent work.
For those considering living in another country for any amount of time: DO IT! Besides being an amazing, fun-filled experience, it really challenges you. It forces you to adapt to new surroundings, meet new people and just get out of your comfort zone. Not only is it character building, but it looks good on any resume to say you’ve studied or work in another environment and culture.
To my fellow travelers, be sure to visit America if you haven’t already. To those that already live there, explore your country. It’s beautiful, and I’ll remember only the good things.
Explore. Dream. Discover.