Third year student Abbie Jones speaks about her first few weeks on her study abroad year in California.
I headed into UCLA with no expectations whatsoever. I believed that the movies about college in America must be wildly exaggerated. I didn’t expect a Project X or Bad Neighbours scenario when I arrived. But Fresher’s week or ‘Zero Week’ as UCLA students call it has differed fairly radically from my Fresher’s experience at Holloway.
Roommates: It is the oddest thing to arrive home to someone snooping around my personal belongings but it happens and there is no forgetting it happened. Having a roommate is the norm in the USA and so far it hasn’t been as bad as expected. Although I do pray for those in triple occupancy. Luckily my roommate does not snore or scream in her sleep but I definitely miss the privacy of my old Wedderburn room, even though I could hear my flatmates through the walls.
Drinking: It was a shock to the system to be told I could not drink after two years of becoming all too frequently intoxicated on neon coloured VK’s. Fortunately the American’s have found a way around it; Frat parties. They are not as crazy as the movies make them out to be but the alcohol is free and flowing making them unmistakably better than many SU nights (sorry SU fans!) The secrecy around alcohol makes you all feel like you’re in on some illicit and shocking secret which is kind of hilarious too… Until the cops come and shut down the frat houses.
Classes: I’m no expert on my classes yet considering it’s the second week. But what I do already love about the American system is the lack of pressure on choosing what is right for you. You are encouraged to swap and experiment with different fields. Say if you want to switch from Math to Journalism? Absolutely no issue, even if you are no longer in your first year.
Extra-Cirricular: Sports are undeniably taken more seriously in the USA which sucks if you are like me and enjoy participating within a range of different sports. Before Uni I’d never Cheered before, but Royal Holloway made that happen. I would not dream of joining the UCLA Cheer squad if I had never done Cheer before! With that said however, there is more team unity here and travelling to a stadium for american football games is kind of surreal and awesome.
There are definitely positives and negatives to freshers in both the USA and UK. There is much less drinking in the USA but made up for in terms of sports and extra curricular so much so that you almost do not notice that you are not catatonic. But if someone could send me a bottle of Absolut I’d be forever grateful!