I have just finished the first few weeks here at UNH as an exchange student, and things have gone pretty well. I can understand what people are saying (I was expecting the New England accents to be much worse), I left the Polar Vortex back in Ohio so I’ve actually come to warmer climates, and I learned how to Irish Dance (although dance is being a bit kind. I do more of a balter than anything graceful).
I wouldn’t dare to say that I’ve become an expert on traveling. It’s actually pretty pathetic how often I get lost. But moving part way across the country has taught me a lot. If you’re considering the NSE program, or just basically any kind of travel, here is my advice for you.
- Trains are a very good mode of transportation. They are not very quick; it took me roughly 22 hours to get from Toledo to Durham. But the ease they offer may out way this negative for a lot of people. You can check bags and they do not check a weight limit like they do for air travel. Amtrak does not have as strict of security measures as airports; you can take FULL SIZE bottles of shampoo with you if you so desire. You make have to wake up at a ridiculous hour to get your trip started, but the seats can be made into fairly large (and not horribly uncomfortable) make shift beds. Tickets are also reasonably price and Amtrak offers a wide variety of discounts to customers.
- If you are going to be living on campus research how their dorms operate. At Toledo, all dorms have front desks with RA’s staffing 24/7. If someone was to show up and didn’t have their ID to get in they could buzz into the desk and the RA’s would be right there to help them. I wrongly assumed that all residence halls were like this. I didn’t find out where I was living until 3 days before I moved and that didn’t offer me a lot of time to warn the Hall Director of my arrival. I emailed her, but as it was right before a weekend she did not have a chance to respond. So here I am, arriving at campus at 12:15 am with no way of getting into my building. Luckily there was a number to call to get ahold of an RA, but I did not find this until I wondered about for about an hour.
- FIND OUT HOW MAILING WORKS. This was one of the harshest lessons I learned. As I was moving across a sizable portion of the country via train I had to ship a box of supplies that I couldn’t fit into my luggage. Toledo has mail delivered right to an individual’s dorm building. So I shoved that baby full and it ended up weighing a good 35-40 lbs. I arrive at UNH to discover that mail gets delivered only to one location. And that this location was literally on the complete opposite side of campus as where I was living. You should’ve seen the GSS worker’s face when he carried that sucker out to the counter for me to take. (I got as far as Hamilton Smith before someone took pity on me and gave me a handcart to pull that sucker the rest of the way to Serc-A. PS thanks to the ROTC guys who helped me when it fell off said cart and helped me into the building). If I had know my assumptions about mail delivery were so very very wrong, I would have packed a bit more wisely.
- Understand that you are moving to a new place where absolutely zero people know who you are. It is a little bit terrifying but also exciting. It’s all in your perspective of things. It may take a little bit for you to actually click with someone and to make a friend you wouldn’t mind seeing out of class. Join some clubs, talk to people about anything you can think of, keep your room door open and interact with the people that walk past. I told a girl in my Mythology class that I liked her hair and we ended up having an in depth conversation that covered some random topics. You just never know. You were crazy enough (I mean this in a positive way, would you rather be crazy or boring?) to move and soon enough people will realize how cool a person you are.
- It’s a strange feeling when you realize that you really don’t know all that much about anything. But it’s an insanely incredible feeling when you realize how easy it is to learn. And I realize how cheesy and cliché it sounds when I say that you learn about yourself, but it really is true. So my last piece of advice would just be to get out there. Take advantage of programs like NSE and UNH’s summer abroad programs. It’s true when they say that travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer.