Georgia – Exchange to Gannon University, USA
Semester 2, 2016
Having only ever been away from home for a couple of weeks at a time and having never lived away from my family, arriving in Erie, Pennsylvania for the first time I was naturally apprehensive. By this point I had left Australia over a month ago to travel with a friend through America, Cuba and Mexico. But when I left Mexico by myself headed for New York and then Erie, I was slightly overwhelmed with a “you’re all alone!” feeling. Traveling with my friend for the first month had really eased me into been away from home as by that point, I was just travelling with a friend. But arriving in New York it all became very real that I wasn’t going home for a really long time! Homesickness set in and I hadn’t even arrived at college yet! I distracted myself with activities because, well, I was in New York City (!), but I still had an anxious feeling about arriving in Erie. But as soon as I actually arrived and met my roommates, they made me feel immediately welcome and like I was home.
I share a two-bedroom apartment style dorm with three other girls. I have never shared a room with anyone like this before and don’t have any sisters, so its definitely been a fun experience so far! One of my roommates is on the Gannon Girls Soccer team, and another is on the Girls Lacrosse team, so meeting new people has been especially easy and everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.
American college is almost exactly how I pictured it, it really is like out of the movies! Gannon is in a town called Erie, which has the feeling and look of a small American town, but is actually one of the biggest towns in Pennsylvania. The structure of the classes here is really different than at home, which has taken some getting used to. All of the classes are structured like tutorials and for most of them 20% of your grade is based on ‘classroom participation’, which for someone who definitely prefers lectures, has taken some getting used to! But it has forced me to talk in class, which has also helped with meeting people in my classes.
Since living here, I have introduced my roommates to vegemite (they did not like it, at all!), Australian salt and vinegar chips (they’re different here, ours are better!) and TimTams. The TimTams were a definite favourite, all my roommates and a few other girls who tried them have already given me their addresses so I can send some over when I get home!
So far my American college experience has been exactly how I pictured it! The campus is so beautiful, like out of a movie and everyone that I have met so far has been really friendly, usually fascinated by the accent, and very welcoming.