Three years ago, the thought of moving halfway across the world to a completely new place away from my family and friends for school is never something I would have thought of myself doing, and yet here I am having almost completed a whole semester at Louisiana State University. I have lived my entire life in London, a city that is known for its diverse melting pot society, with things to do at every corner of every street. Transitioning from a fast-paced city life to living in Baton Rouge, was a very obvious culture shock.
The cultural difference between British people and Americans are endless, from small things- like the fact that we speak the same language, and yet so many of our expression are different or even contradictory, to the bigger elements like the fact that the school spirit in the US is larger than anything I’d ever witnessed back home. School pride is never something I really had at my university in the UK, expect perhaps on the academic side of things. At LSU from sports, to organizations, to wearing gold and purple proudly in day-to-day student life, the differences become more and more apparent each day.
It definitely took longer than expected to properly feel “settled in” the American way of life, especially down here in the South. Although I had travelled in the US before, living in the country is a completely separate and unique experience. At first, I expected myself to gravitate almost solely to other international students as myself, but overtime I found that connecting with American students as well has definitely given me new outlooks and perspectives on life, as the American experience is so different to my own and my peers back home. It is still daunting at times to think about the fact that I live thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I know, but this experience so far has shown me the importance of being independent, and the benefits of personal growth in such an alien and at times scary place.
If you are an American at LSU thinking about studying abroad as part of your degree, I say do it!!! It took me months of back and forth thinking to actually pack my bags and book my flight tickets to Baton Rouge, as it’s not easy starting a new life in a place where nobody knows you. However, I have found that the difficulty of it all is rewarding, as it forces you out of your comfort zone, and it’s a unique experience to be able to study in a foreign country whilst being able to immerse yourself in the country’s cultural way of life. I would encourage anyone to study abroad, and to get in touch with the International Studies Department at LSU that was very useful to me in settling in LSU and in giving me all the advice and information required for my study abroad. It’s a chance for exploration and self-development that I hope everyone at least considers whilst pursuing a degree!