As the title probably gives away, these past 3 weeks in the USA have been an epic whirlwind of everything! That includes culture shock, seeing and experiencing new things and learning about a different education system. What I will say is that it is a ‘worth-every-second kind’ of whirlwind!
I don’t even know where to start-I’m sure you can tell I’m still mesmerised by the whole experience-but maybe I’ll start with my absolute favourite part of the trip-New York city, the big apple!
So we spent 3 short but blissful days in New York! You can see all of us below! It was scorching (30 degrees celsius + ) so many proper summer days!
New York is one of those cities that never ceases to dazzle; it’s beautiful but concrete, friendly but unfamiliar and the opportunities are endless. These are my feelings about New York summed up in 2 sentences. We saw so much- the 9/11 memorial, the Freedom Tower, Battery Park, The Empire State Building, Central Park, The Rockerfeller Centre, Staten Island, Lady Liberty-in such a short time! And all this made me fall deeply in love with New York. It’s also something really special when a place or experiences in a place can teach you something valuable about yourself. This only dawned on me once we had reached Mount Holyoke-the college we stayed at for the course-but I learnt so much about myself in New York. I realised that I can be resourceful when I need to be and that I can overcome some of my fears, including my fear of underground trains (I know, it sounds silly, but the fear is real!) So what New York taught me was that there are valuable experiences and lessons in venturing out to new places and exploring- it is definitely worth it! Landmarks and sites aside, what I really loved about New York was the food. I am a HUGE foodie, so coming from me, that might not sound that odd but not everyone is a foodie and it’s hard to remember that! So instead of detailing every last amazing meal, i’ll just pop a pretty food collage in so that your eyes can pop in admiration!
On that note, I will just say that I am already dreaming about returning to New York! It’s such a huge city and there is so much to see, it definitely warrants more than one visit.
Our end destination was Mount Holyoke, a college in South Hadley. This was where the Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course was delivered to us. It’s the polar opposite of New York, in the sense that it is very quiet, quaint and calming. It’s the kind of place where you go when you need a week-end away from the hype of the city, so essentially the perfect place to study!
Hopefully those pictures serve their purpose and speak volumes. It really is a beautiful place, which made passing the time when we were not studying easy. Some of us would just laze around on the grass while others would play volleyball. The course itself is really interesting! It was focused on social media and marketing this year, so we had the privilege of being able to help some local businesses launch their social media platforms. The specific business I worked with is called ArteSana Holyoke, which started as a community volunteering project but is now launching its enterprise side of its business. It was incredible to actually work with a business and deal with the practical elements such as how to position your marketing and developing an avatar (your ideal customer), instead of just studying theory all day long. It was also touching to meet the women who were involved in the business and to see how hard they worked. It was just such a privilege and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In terms of personal development, it was definitely a valuable experience – I learnt how to work with different types of people, how to craft the perfect pitch and how to listen to the client and adapt my approach based on the client’s needs. The course was definitely insightful and enjoyable.
At the end of our two weeks on the course, the college took us for a lovely trip to Harvard (in Cambridge) and Boston! This mini-trip was a fabulous way to unwind after two academically intense weeks and to just enjoy some time with others on the trip. Both locations were beautiful. Visiting Harvard was like reliving Legally Blonde, one of my absolute favourite movies. It is honestly lovely and even if it’s not your dream to attend University there, it is worth visiting just to see! The only sad thing is that I don’t feel like we spent long enough in either of these places to get a real sense of what they are like. I only managed to appreciate their surface beauty and buzz so hopefully the pictures below give you a small snapshot of these places! Much like New York, I would love to return to both Harvard and Boston with a little bit more time to spare.
I hope I haven’t thrown so much information at you that it’s impossible to process. Overall, this whole experience has been in my eyes, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that is what makes it worth doing. Take that risk, make that change, whether it’s embarking on an Erasmus course or an exchange or an ISC – I promise you, from one York student to another, you will not regret it.