My American Experience

By Gianna Pornasdoro | Staff Writer

Imagine packing your whole life into one suitcase, a carry-on and a backpack. That’s what I did six months ago.

My year abroad in the USA began on Aug. 30 and I had never felt more nervous than I did then. It’s terrifying saying goodbye to what you’re used to — like my friends, my family, my car. But looking back now, I question why I was so scared. Perhaps because I lived with my family for 20 years, got prepared a hot meal at the end of every day and felt the same

Northern Irish weather for more than 13 years. Not having what you’re used to for a period of time is strange.

America is different. Being from Northern Ireland, I was used to identical small houses, endless rain, less snow and not having to convert Fahrenheit to celsius all the time. My first memory of Carroll was orientation week; a lot of information, a lot of ice breakers and a lot of cheering. It was an interesting and most certainly different experience than what I’ve had compared to the university I attend back in Northern Ireland (NI).

They say that Carroll is a small campus but I beg to differ. Instead of walking down the hallway in one building to get to a class, I have to leave the building and maybe walk five minutes away to get to my next class. I know it isn’t that far, but walking in negative degree weather (under 14C Fahrenheit) seems as though I’m walking in shorts and a t-shirt because of how cold it is.

I started doing my own laundry, waking up to the blaring alarm and occasionally making my own food ー aka ramen noodles and popcorn. Learning how to control myself with my dining dollars has never been such a hard thing to do. Uber, uber, uber ー it’s a lifesaver. I haven’t spent more time in the library than I have in these past six months. The amount of studying I have to do was a lot. Independent studying is what they drilled into our minds in NI, so there are no quizzes or homework; there is optional reading ー but it’s optional, meaning there is no reading. Participation and attendance doesn’t affect your grade, and finals aren’t as stressful as they are here. It’s a completely different experience that I had to adjust to. So far so good.

Living in a different country where you don’t know where the local supermarket is, where your friends aren’t down the road from you or the fact that your family isn’t a car ride away is an experience itself. Coming to Carroll has led me to become more independent, allowed me to meet amazing people who I will be grateful for and allowed me to make unforgettable memories ーthe good, bad and embarrassing ーthat I will forever remember. It’s cheesy, but true. If you have an opportunity to study abroad ーand not just for three weeks in a different country ーbut a solid semester, please take it. It will be amazing. Take it from someone who hasn’t had a good chippy (fish and chips) in the past six months. It’s worth it though.


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