So, you’ve made it 4,000 miles from home. What next?

Posted on: 2 March 2020 by Georgina Clarkson in 2019/20

Georgina on exchange

So, you’ve made it 4,000 miles from home. What next?

I remember sitting in my room with a complete stranger who was to be my roommate for the next four months. I knew no one. Had no real idea about the university I was at. Had no idea what the following four months would hold. I was terrified. Had I made a mistake? Would I fit in? Would I make friends? I’m sure dozens before me studying abroad have had these exact same worries, and undoubtably there will be more for years to come. But we all did it, it was all ok.

I think I particularly struggled because me, and the two other girls from Liverpool, are the first cohort to exchange with the University of South Carolina, so had no one else’s advice or experience of the uni. So, I shall do that job.

Right away, a great effort was made for all of us International Students to meet and get together. This was incredibly important, as straight away you had people around you going through the exact same things you are. I’m still friends with many of those I met in the first week and gave me a foundation of confidence when it came to classes and meeting the actual Americans (dun dun duhhhh).

One thing I will say, as a Brit in the US you will never have to worry about feeling like no one will care or struggling to make friends. No matter where you are: the dining hall, Starbucks or just your classes, people will always ask about your accent, where you’re from and how on earth you ended up in the middle of the American south. It may seem overwhelming at first, but they are genuinely  interested in you purely because you’re different to the majority Southern student body. When I’ve had particularly homesick days or have struggled just a small conversation with a stranger about England, my home life and family has really helped!

One thing I was not in slightest bit prepared for, and don’t think anyone ever could be, were the football games. GO COCKS!  Now I don’t mean your average few pints in the pub then footie match kind of day: everyone in team merch, fireworks, cheerleaders, full brass band, sirens, dancers…. And that’s before the game even begins. It might seem overwhelming reading this, but they’ve been some of the best days I’ve had here. It’s quite the experience and takes some getting used to but ultimately so much fun (if a little challenging in 40degree midday heat).

My advice for anyone coming to USC for their semester abroad is to get involved with as much as possible, join the ISA (International Students Association), take advantage of travelling and exploring the states, and definitely remember plenty of summer clothes for the 35degree heat deep into October.

PS- the state dance is the Carolina Shag- everyone loves it, but no one realises the irony. Great dance though- would very much recommend.