First off, I want to say that this blog post will be a bit of a mish-mash of what i've been up to this past week and things that I've learnt. Because i'm doing this blog post for two entirely different reasons (to keep everyone updated with my travels AND to inform others of what it's like to be on exchange), sometimes it's a little bit difficult to get the two ideas to come together. Anyway, I hope this manages to do both (sorry if it doesn't!).
I've been downtown, been to Fairhaven, gone to dinner a couple of times (for the record, if you're ever in Bellingham, I recommend On Rice..yumm!), been grocery shopping a few times, finally invested in a jacket (in future I recommend that this is the first thing you do, not something you leave for a week), survived my first experience at the "mall" (3 girls, 5 hours..a lot of shopping!!!), played broom ice-hockey and lived to tell the tale and I've finally managed to sort out my classes which I'm looking forward to.
I've learnt a lot this week too.
One the biggest things has been adjusting to life in America; the food (so many ready meals and huuuuuge portions at restaurants), the people and driving on the opposite side of the road. I think the biggest thing to adjust to though has been learning to live in an apartment. It's been a lot of fun actually but it's a lot different to living at home - getting used to living with "strangers", adjusting to having to share a bedroom and a relatively small bathroom - so far though there's been no dramas or issues which is good!
As of this morning I've also learnt to do my laundry early as the laundry room gets really busy as the day goes on. 10 washers and dryers seems a lot when the room is empty..not so much when there's a queue and you have to wait 40 minutes for a load to go through.
Finally, I've been trying to get my head around the education system here. Back home everything is pretty much laid out (at least for my degree it is); "in first year you take these units, in second year you are meant to take these units". Here though your first 2 years are generally spent taking mandatory classes such as English, Science, Maths (unless you're in something like the music program which is different again). In order to graduate you have to complete those classes sometime over your 4 years but everything else you get a choice in and it's pretty much first come, first served when it comes to registering - which can make enrolment a little bit more difficult. A lot of people have found it strange but interesting that my degree is so structured, and a few have said that it seems to make more sense to do it they way we do.
As an additional note, Americans love Australians! I've got so many email addresses from strangers who said that if i'm ever down in California, Seattle or San Diego I can flick them an email and they will give me suggestions of places to stay, where to eat, things to do. Everyone also wants to know about Kangaroos, they're particularly interested in the fact that our national animal is a pest and that we kill and eat it..the next question is always "so have you tried Kangaroo?", to which I have to say no, I haven't.
Anyway, i'm going to wrap up. I have a lot of work to do for tomorrow (yeah, that's another thing about school here. So. Much. Homework. For one class here I get probably double (at least) of the stuff I have to do for a class back home..and it all counts towards your final grade!).
Also, many people (family and friends alike), have encouraged me to "try one new thing a day" while i'm here, so if there's something you would specifically like me to do or try then let me know over the next 6 months. I've already had a few requests for photos with different things (such as a giant pretzel) so i'm happy to start a list.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your week!
Love Danielle xx