I’m Sarah, a 3rd year History and English lit student, and six days from now I’m heading to the University of Virginia (UVA) for a year. I’ve wanted to study abroad since starting at Edinburgh, so I’m unbelievably excited and grateful that I’m getting to spend a year in such a beautiful part of the world! For anyone who’s wondering, UVA is in Charlottesville, “the feel good capital of the US”, about 2 hours south of Washington DC.
I hope to blog fairly regularly about my attempts to negotiate life ‘on the other side of the pond’, but I thought I’d write a quick post about preparing for departure.
It feels a little surreal knowing that this time next week I’ll be sharing my room with a roommate (yes, I’m getting the full ‘American experience’!), and living in a part of the world where the buildings come with air conditioning and central heating. It’ll be nice living in a state that gets real seasons, as opposed to Scotland’s semi-permanent state of grey drizzle, but I don’t know how much I’m going to enjoy the harsh winters…
I haven’t arrived yet, but already ‘school pride’ seems to be much bigger in the US than it is in the UK. I don’t think you’d ever get an academic at Edinburgh signing off their emails with “wahoowa!!” or “go Hoos!” (UVA students are affectionately called ‘Wahoos’ or ”Hoos’). When we arrive at the airport we’ve been instructed to, “look for us in blue or orange UVaExpress shirts…with orange balloons and UVaExpress signs”. There’s something reassuring about going to somewhere with such a strong sense of community spirit though, and knowing that we’re not going to be left to fend for ourselves for the next ten months!
Yesterday I got my first class syllabus, and I think it hit me that I’m not going on an extended holiday. In some ways I feel like I’ve spent months trying to ‘prepare’…seeking out reading lists…using Google Maps to tour the university grounds…even driving everyone around me crazy looking for ‘the perfect suitcase’. Yes, really. In a way I think my family will be grateful once I’m gone so they won’t have to listen to me preparing for my departure! Now I have to accept that I can’t keep planning forever, and I’m never going to be 100% prepared for getting on that plane on Tuesday.
Yesterday, in the middle of marathoning The West Wing in my pyjamas, the thought occurred to me that I could go to the White House next week.
I could book a ticket and jump on a train to the White House, purely because I want to, because it’s there and nothing is stopping me.
So I booked a train ticket.
Nine days from now I’ll be there, and I can’t quite wrap my head around it. It’s CRAZY.
I know that the novelty will wear off, and the hard work will start in a few weeks, but for now I’m trying to keep the nerves at bay by thinking about all of the fun things I get to do over the next couple of weeks. Next time I write I shall be on the other side of the Atlantic, finding out whether or not college life is “just like the movies”!