Best four months of my life

Written by Stephanie Bankole, BA Philosophy

My first experience of UF was walking into my dorm in Weaver hall and I feel like that was when my exchange trip felt the most real, because I realised that this would be my home and space for the next 17 weeks. After that, the next three weeks entailed getting to know the campus, which took multiple attempts with google maps open on my phone, the best places to eat (chick-fil-a!) and making friends with other international students and even some American one, and of course attending my lectures! While all this happening, I had my first trip booked down to Tampa with friends that I’d made for Gasparillia, a pirate festival that happens over a weekend. This was my first time out of Gainesville, and it was so nice to see another city in Florida and see the differences between a college town and an actual city. Though I was having so much fun already outside studying, learning about different things and in a different way was a challenge to begin with, but I’ve slowly started to get used to the weekly quizzes and bi-weekly essays and I’m truly enjoying what I’m learning.

Things have definitely become easier in terms of getting around and getting used to school work. I have also been on the famous ‘Spring break’ that Americans seem to rave about in the movies, and I was fortunate enough to go to the Bahamas thanks to my IMAGINE bursary I received. I was able to budget carefully and put money towards going to the Bahamas and it was the best trip I have ever been on. After such an amazing trip, my friends and I took one weekend to drive down to their home in Jacksonville where we again got to escape from Gainesville and enjoy a new scenery and go to one of my new favourite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory. The weather has definitely gotten better and has even reached 33 degrees Celsius one day, something I’m definitely not used to back at home, and makes it hard to concentrate on studying! With the last few weeks I had in Florida and the spare money I had from my bursary, myself and a group of friends decided to go to New York for the weekend, which was also an amazing trip, seeing as I got to see family that live out there too and haven’t seen in years, which really made my time abroad even more special. With my last day, I couldn’t be happier with the way my trip has finished and I’m so glad I made the decision to study abroad. I have had the best four months of my life and have made friends with people all over the world, giving me sofas to stay in many continents!

Being able to take part in studying abroad with the University of Reading has honestly changed my time here for the better and I can walk away from Reading saying studying abroad was the best part of my time here! I truly believe I am much more independent than I was before I left and I think that is a change for the better.

United States

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