Exchange to UNCG, USA
Semester 1, 2018
I began my exchange experience with my family 2 weeks before the semester began on December 18. We began in San Francisco flying via LAX (allow 3 hours between flights to have enough time to get through customs!) where we rode over the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Alcatraz before heading to the Grand Canyon where we saw an elk and many mule dears.
Next was New York City for Christmas. This was the beginning of the very cold weather! To see as much of the city as possible in just 3 days we bought ‘The New York Pass’ which gives you access to 3 or 5 attractions saving at least $100. Christmas Evewas insane! The footpaths were packed and we were literally pushed up against one another but we managed to escape to a carriage ride through Central Park. FYI if you want to go ice-skating do it in Central Park, it looked far less crowded than the Rockefeller Center.!
On Boxing Day we jumped on a train and headed down to Washington DC passing by frozen rivers in New Jersey. DC was beautiful. It was a much-welcomed change from New York. For me, it was an introduction to American history for my next 4 months in North Carolina.
For the last part of the trip we went to Tennessee. For my sister and I who are lovers of country music, this was one of the best parts of the trip. We first drove up to the Great Smoky Mountains home to Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s amusement park) in the tourist town of Pigeon Forge. We stayed 20 minutes further up the road in the town of Gatlinburg. Here we took a gondola up to Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort at the top of the mountain. Unlike other gondola rides I’ve seen this one was standing room only and held 70 people shoulder to shoulder. We were assured multiple times that it was safe and Swiss designed.
After 2 nights here we drove back to Nashville for New Years Eve! This is when the cold really hit with the temperature only reaching -8 degrees during the day (down to -13 at dinner time and -20 with the wind chill)!!! We were planning on going to one of the free outdoor concerts in the park with artists such as Maren Morris, Carly Pearce and Keith Urban. However, due to the abnormally cold weather, rumors of cancellations and needing to leave at 5am the next day we went to dinner at a place called ‘the Row’ where the walls were filled with biographies and photos of country music icons and went to bed early.
After 2 weeks of crazy travel including 9 flights and 10 states I made it to Greensboro, North Carolina where I’ll be spending my semester. Take advantage of whatever travel you can before and after the semester. It’s only 2 weeks into the semester so far and I’ve noticed vast differences between the way that we are assessed and the time required for each subject.