I spent my year abroad studying at Keele University in the United Kingdom. Located just outside the small town of Stoke-on-Trent, the campus was nestled within the quaint English countryside. Looking out my dorm window, I would see moss covered trees, mischievous squirrels running about the woods and blooming daffodils in the late Spring. On campus were the usual sites: Dorms, large classroom buildings and a library open 24/7. A sports field on the edge of campus was often filled with students playing soccer or cricket on the weekends. Also located on campus were uniquely British charms. My favorite building was Keele Hall, a 19th century manor located on campus. Banquets took place inside Keele Hall, including an international student ball during the first week of the fall semester. That night, I bonded with students from around the world and created everlasting friendships.
Another favorite place on campus was the Student’s Union, or as the students called it, the SU. Here was the nightly hot spot for student activities. Pubs, musical guests, dancing, big screen TV’s and end of year celebrations were all held at the SU. I made great memories watching soccer matches (called Football there of course) with my flatmates. I quickly became immersed in the soccer atmosphere. Hearing the crowd passionately root and holler in support of their club made the excitement palpable. Once the game ended, my flatmates and I would return to the dorms and relive the exciting match on the video game FIFA. I had a tremendous time living in the dorms again. There were only six students living in my hall, so we all grew very close. Also, each student had their own room (no roommates) which made the rooms seem extra spacious.
Keele was wonderful, but I also loved visiting other cities. The public transportation system in England is a breeze to use. The trains and buses are a reliable and effective method of transportation (even though they drive on the left side of the road). Each weekend, I travelled with fellow study abroad students throughout the country. My favorite time to travel was during the Christmas season. Christmas markets popped up in every town, selling sweets and holiday goodies. I visited Manchester, Birmingham and London during the holiday season. I’ll never forget ice-skating at Hyde Park during the weeks before Christmas.
Another great part about studying in England is being just a short flight away from the rest of Europe. In April, Keele students get a month long Easter Break from classes. I took advantage of this golden opportunity to meet-up with international friends I made earlier in the year. I travelled to their hometowns of Amsterdam and Hamburg, Germany, where they showed me their favorite local attractions. This once in a lifetime opportunity was made all the sweeter by getting to accompany my friends one last time.
I went on many wonderful trips during my time abroad. Along with my adventures in Amsterdam, Germany and within the United Kingdom, I also visited Paris, Barcelona and Prague. I made lasting friendships with students from around the world, tasted delicious local cuisine and made memories I’ll never forget. I’m truly glad I spent the full year abroad, because the time flies!