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Studying Abroad: Europe v America? The Battle Of The Atlantic!

09/05/2017 11:20
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Allison is a Maths major from Long Island, New York, who spent a year studying at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.

Zoe is from Hertfordshire, England, and studied abroad in Long Island, New York as part of her Psychology with American Studies degree.

Here we compare our pros and cons, and discuss tips for studying abroad and travelling either side of the Atlantic Ocean!

Food
Allison: I miss American food! I don't know if it's just what I'm used to, but eating the same food in England tastes different. Europe is incredible though - I just got back from Italy and it was the best food I've had. I'm Italian so it tasted like home for me.
Zoe: The food in America definitely tastes better, but I think that might just be because it has loads more sugar and salt and is so unhealthy! The service in America puts England to shame though, and I really miss unlimited coffee refills.

Culture
Allison: The British stereotype that America has, like the idea that they're all royalty and super posh and gentlemanly, that's totally wrong. What really struck me was the drinking culture, it's insane.
Zoe: American culture was everything I expected and more. Everything there is just bigger and brighter - from the roads, to the sky, to the advertisements. I loved it.

Language
Allison: It took me a while to get used to the different UK accents; I feel like an accent changes the word here more than in America! Travelling Europe I found that if you speak English you hold the key to the world, there's always someone who speaks English or can translate.
Zoe: Yeah, making myself understood in America was sometimes really hard! I once ordered water and was given lemonade...

People
Allison: Americans are definitely friendlier - I'm sorry!
Zoe: I agree, I was a little suspicious of Americans that were being really friendly but it's genuine! I was really grateful for that, especially during my first few weeks in the US.

Weather
Allison: It's rainier and colder - and the wind means umbrellas are pretty much useless anyway.
Zoe: Obviously, it differs hugely depending on where you are in America, and also across the year - like they have proper seasons and it can be -18 degrees (C) in winter and 40 in summer! Rather than in England where it's some kind of grey pretty much all the time.

Health Care
Allison: I'm lucky enough to not have needed to use the doctors while I've been here.
Zoe: I did have to go to the doctors a couple of times and the whole insurance claim thing confused me! I'm so thankful I had comprehensive insurance though, as without it an appointment and some antibiotics can be really expensive!

Classes
Allison: Academics are harder here, I don't prefer it at all. The work is harder and a lot of the time too specialised, I prefer to study a little bit of everything.
Zoe: Assessments in America are little and often which meant I felt like I knew more by the end of the year. On the other hand, I didn't write a single lab report which hasn't helped me coming back to final year Psychology!

Transport
Allison: Transport between different cities in the UK is easier and cheaper than in the US. I like public transport here but that might be because I don't like driving! (If you do plan on driving abroad the British Foreign and Commonwealth office has really useful guidance!)
Zoe: Public transport in major cities in America is great - like the subway in New York - but once you get out onto Long Island it's basically useless. Making friends with people with cars was so useful (thanks guys, if you're reading this)!

Travelling
Allison: Travelling in Europe is so easy. It's incredible, the fact that you can be in another country with a whole other language in just a matter of hours.
Zoe: I was constantly surprised by how large the country was, and couldn't believe how long it was going to take me to get to some places. Greyhound buses were a lot nicer than I expected. Airport officials could be tough though, even if I hadn't left the country - I quickly learnt to always have my visa documents with me!

Top Travel Tip
Allison: Go with the flow! Don't be too strict with yourself and take travel as it comes, whatever you do is going to be good! If something goes wrong or you miss something, everything's going to be ok!
Zoe: Mine's kind of the opposite - do research! I love to be organised and I went into every destination with a plan. If something came up I would never dismiss it, but I liked having a basic outline of what to expect from the state I was in, laws or customs, and what I wanted to do. For advice on the country as a whole, America is one of the FCO's 225 country guides, and Canada and Mexico also feature if you plan on crossing the borders.

Worst Experience
Allison: I'm lucky that nothing awful happened to me, and anything that did was a learning experience. Like homesickness or being lonely - you need to feel those things to grow as a person, and now I know I'm able to rise above that.
Zoe: I think the worst thing that happened to me was getting sick, because you just want your mum!

Best Experience
Allison: It sounds really cliché, but being able to go everywhere and travel to other places every few weeks!
Zoe: I agree - and knowing I travelled around America by myself and how much I experienced has done wonders for my self-confidence. I have more faith in myself and what I think I can do! You do need to be careful travelling alone though and, again, the FCO has some great tips on staying safe.

Of course, no matter what continent you go to on your year abroad it's going to be amazing and life-changing! To keep up-to-date with how events around the world will impact you as a British national you can follow the FCO on Facebook and Twitter.

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