It felt like a very American experience

Written by Max Blakeley, BA Film

I can say with confidence that I absolutely loved everything about my first few weeks on my study abroad placement at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, in the heart of the United States’ mid-west.

I remember the one-hour car ride from the airport to the small town of Muncie very well. Even after over twelve hours of traveling, the site of the Indianapolis skyline with the Indiana Colts’ famed Lucas Oil American football stadium in the foreground didn’t fall short in filling me with excitement for my forthcoming adventure. As we got further away from Indianapolis I began to see the real Indiana. I was struck by the natural beauty of its rural setting. The two words “Corn” and “Fields” would suffice in perfectly describing what the general terrain looks like throughout the state. The earth is flat for miles in every direction and all you can see is clumps of trees growing sparsely amongst the vast agricultural landscape.  To put it into perspective, if you ever happen to be driving through Indiana you could you fall asleep in the car and wake up an hour later to find that the view from your passenger window hasn’t changed at all. That just about sums up the endless, and no less beautiful, setting that comprises the state of Indiana.

It didn’t take me long to settle in to ‘college life’ once the semester commenced. I was placed in Studebaker East, which is Ball State’s dormitory for international students, however there was also American students there as well. The mix of Americans and fellow international students was great as it meant that I had a group of friends to experience this new culture with, and then friends who were keen to show us their culture and vice versa. This meant we had a great group with which to go to the college American football games, and basketball games which really became a big part of our weekend most weeks. The tailgate parties that preceded every college football game were a lot of fun. It felt like a very American experience; with people dancing next to big trucks that had huge speakers on them whilst others were grilling burgers on their portable Barbeques. And then we would all venture off to the game itself.

Academically, I found that Ball State’s system took a little bit of getting used to, simply because it was different to what I am used to in England. I really like how Ball State students could pick classes from different departments within reason. For example, I took two classes from the Telecommunications department, a class from the English department and a class from the Art department. I benefitted from this variety as it allowed me to steer my education in the direction I wanted it to go. My classes in the end were Photography, Screenwriting, Advanced Video Production and Telecommunications Management. As my degree is Film BA, you can see why these courses were beneficial to me. The class-room based, more relaxed teaching styles made classes feel more personal and enjoyable. Particularly in the Telecommunications classes (Advanced Video Production and Management), both of my instructors filled their classes with clear information and helpful anecdotes of their experiences in the industry I wish to work in.

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