So, I arrived in the States from Oxford about 6 weeks ago, to begin my exchange year to Indiana University Bloomington. However before I got here I spent ten days in Princeton – a delightful example of a small college town, very similar to Bloomington in fact. From there I was able to get to both Philadelphia (the home of the Philly cheese steak sandwich) and New York. Without a shadow of a doubt I enjoyed New York a whole lot more. I managed to get to a pastrami sandwich shop that was featured on Man vs. Food, I also visited the Museum of Modern art, touched a piece of the Berlin wall, walked down the High Rise park (a personal favourite), shopped a little – but the highlight of the New York trip was the Upright Citizens Brigade. A free improvisational comedy show put on in a tiny little theatre. I would highly recommend it if you’re ever in the Big Apple, but get there early – queuing starts at 6pm for a 9pm show. Philly on the other hand I found had little to offer, the historical sights were generic and rather uninteresting with a hilarious pro-American interactive show. Yet the food was amazing. Overall first 10 days of ‘Murica left me feeling excited for the rest of my visit.
Arrival in Bloomington:
Got here easily enough a plane from New York to Indianapolis and a casual three-hour bus ride to campus with numerous gun shops advertised all the way, ‘Cheapest Gun’s Around’. Bloomington itself is stunning, a number of enormous white brick buildings over a campus twice the size of my home University. The facilities are vast and almost overwhelming with gyms and libraries overshadowing anything I have access home to in the UK. Yet most importantly is the fact that I am able to keep alcohol in my dorm room. Due to the fact that I am already 21 I was not allowed to live with Freshmen due to the fear that I would “corrupt the American youth with my drinking habits”. To be fair they need no help – Indiana has been outstanding in terms of nights out!
So the social and extracurricular stuff is all well and good but I’m here to study. General statement: A hell of a lot of work, but it’s far more simplistic than back in the UK. As a student of humanities I thrive on essay writing, yet here I feel like I am barely being stretched. Out argument and documents are laid down for us, it takes away the satisfaction of the accomplishment of finishing a damn fine essay. That having been said the amount of work I have to do and the hours of contact time put the British system to shame. Back home I would feel like a good week is getting to 50% of my contact time and doing about 20% of the advised reading. Here I am not allowed to miss anything and I am given home work. Home work! It feels as if I am back at school, both in that regards and the standard of work that is expected. I know this sounds sensationally arrogant but it is held by my home Uni as well. If I get straight A’s here it still translates to a high 2:1 when I return to the UK. Overall enjoying the subjects though. All is well.