December 2016: An American Tradition

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When I look back on my time in Minnesota since August it almost feels surreal. As I sit here writing my blog update for the month of November I have exactly two weeks left of my first semester in Minnesota; time has gone incredibly quick. Minnesota feels like a second home to me now and I feel so fortunate to feel so content here. However, it is such a bitter-sweet feeling as things come to an end here, especially knowing that we have to say goodbye to the exchange students who are only studying here for a semester, yet I am so excited to see my family and friends who are back home over the Christmas period.

The month of November has been full of so many great memories. Firstly, we had our final home football game that drew an end to the football season, a huge American college tradition. I wish I could say that my knowledge of the game had improved from August but unfortunately I am just as clueless as I was then. I don’t think I will ever quite understand the game but they are still a lot of fun. The games have been either early morning or afternoon games and so people ‘tailgate’ (the American name for pre-drinking before the game) very early. Usually the Tailgates take place at the fraternities on frat row and they are exactly like they are in the movies. Our last football definitely lived up to expectation especially regarding the cold Minnesota weather. We had our first experience of Minnesota snow and by snow I mean a blizzard but fortunately it stopped and I could come out of hiding. The tailgates have been so much fun and have definitely evoked the all American College life experience, they will be missed.

We also got to experience the famous American tradition of ‘Thanksgiving.’ In fact, I got to experience it not once but three times so I was fed exceptionally well. Firstly, the International Society ‘Globe’ of Carlson School of Management threw an amazing thanksgiving feast for all the exchange students where we had a range of American food. The food usually eaten at Thanksgiving is similar to our Christmas dinners; there is turkey, potatoes, gravy etc BUT no Yorkshire puddings. I then had my second Thanksgiving meal at a professor’s home in Minnesota. A few exchange students including myself are very fortunate to be fed every Thursday night. George (an academic advisor in Carlson) and his wife Nancy invite us to their home and make us dinner every Thursday and on this particular evening made us a beautiful Thanksgiving meal. I also tried my first taste of Pumpkin Pie, a popular Thanksgiving dessert. It was really good and definitely lived up to expectations. They also always have some English breakfast tea ready at the end of each night so they get extra points. They are a really sweet and kind couple.

My third Thanksgiving meal took place right on the other side of America in Arizona. I flew from Minneapolis to Phoenix for a week to visit my best friend Lily who is studying at ‘Arizona State University’ for her year abroad. It was such a lovely week and going from snow to sun was definitely a bonus. Lily and I were really lucky to be invited to our friend Chrissy’s house in Chandler Arizona. Chrissy studied abroad in Manchester last year and so it was so amazing to reconnect with her again and to get to see the stunning state she calls home. After our beautiful feast we did some light shopping just before the ‘Black Friday’ craziness. The following day we took a road trip to visit the Grand Canyon; something I could have only of ever dreamt of seeing. It took us about four hours to get there as we travelled up to northern Arizona. It was simply breath taking. The canyon stretches so far and almost creates a wall like feature against the clear blue sky. We posed right at the end of several cliff points of the canyon just for that strong Instagram picture. It was a really amazing experience. We also did some sun bathing by the pool. On my final day we took a hike up ‘A Mountain’ and watched the beautiful sunset over the ASU campus; it was a really nice end to my trip. I feel so fortunate to be able to see and experience the many diverse states America consists of.

I have my final exams approaching in these last two weeks and so I should probably start focusing more on the ‘studying’ part of Studying abroad. I then fly on the 15th of December to New York for a few days before flying back to Belfast. I am so excited to experience New York at Christmas especially the Ice Skating in central park and of course being back home for a few weeks before flying back to Minneapolis.

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Hope

I was so nervous about moving my life to America for a year but from all I have experienced in this month, the fear, the stress and the immense change have definitely all been worth it!

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