Blog, Wrap Ups

The best bits of study abroad: College Football, D.C and New York City

Hey and hello πŸ‘‹

My time studying in the US is slowly but surely coming to an end. This entire experience feels like it’s flown by while at the same time I feel like I’ve been here forever. No matter what though I’m so happy I did this. Actually being here has made all the visa stress worth it.

Today I’m going to talk about three things that were legit memories I’m going to keep with me forever. Also, they made my Instagreem feed look amazing so I can’t complain about that.

Essentially my three best moments of this whole study abroad trip, which I’m going to talk about, have been:

  • Going to a Penn State Football game
  • Day trip to D.C
  • Spending Thanksgiving in New York!!

Penn State

My host university does have a (american) football team but they’re really not very good. They’ve lost every single game this season bless them and while me and my friends did go to near enough every home game, going to watch Penn State play against Ohio State, their biggest rival, was insane!

I feel like one of the biggest culture shocks was how massive college sports is here in the US. Like, logically I already knew this – I’ve read enough hockey romances, watched enough American TV to know how big a deal college sport is, especially (american) football, but seeing it in person was insane.

look how cool those stipes are!

Another culture shock was the fact that the fans of both teams were just integrated and sat next to each other. In the UK they literally have police escorts for the away fans and keep the two teams separated in the stadium. It made the whole place look super cool though because it created a striped effect. I don’t know if you had to wear a certain colour depending on what section you were sat in besides the student white out area but it was super cool.

I actually have two funny stories from this experience. The first is that we got sat in our seats and five minutes later a guy in the row in front of us, threw up on the person in front of him! The poor victim of this situation was wearing a white hoodie which I’m sure is now in the bin because the back was bright orange. It was so gross. Again, culture shock moment. I feel like in the UK someone probably would have gotten punched, at the very least yelled at, but nothing. A couple of faces were pulled, and rightfully so, but that was it.

I’ll tell you who was very aggressive though: the woman behind us. She was an Ohio fan, evident by the bright red hoodie she wore, and she was very enthusiastic and vocal in her support to the point where me and my friend were essentially deaf in one ear. We also came out of it with a couple of bruises because she legit hit us a few times, even sent me almost flying into the row in front at one point.

The second funny story is that the guy we went with was ridiculously hungover – he looked dead on his feet so a loud, very busy football game was not the greatest environment for him. Dude paid 120$ just to sit there and eat over priced chicken tenders. As bad as I felt for him it was quite funny because me and my friend were shouting our lungs out, joining in with the chants and then singing along to the music in between plays, and the only time he moved was to get food or do the wave.

Speaking about the chants quickly before I move on … I’m sorry USA but you’re chants are baddd. They’re so basic and also super slow. “WE ……. ARE ……. P .. S .. U”. No offence but you need to get a smidge more creative.

Washington D.C

My host uni was kind enough to organise a bus trip and let us vote on where we wanted to go. I was toying with the idea of getting a bus or train up to D.C one weekend on my own time and dime anyways so I was very happy when this won the vote, and extra happy when me and my friends all made the of those accepted.

If I could only go to one place in America, D.C would not be my first choice – that would either be New York or New Orleans – but I’m so happy I got to go and see in person all these iconic landmarks. I’m watching Bones right now so every time I catch a glimps of the Washington Memorial or Monument I’m like “hehe I’ve been there”.

We really did see all the major sights:

  • Washington Monument I couldn’t help but think of Spiderman, we didn’t go to the top but I got some good photos.
  • The White House was really cool. I actually thought it was going to be bigger, but then my friend pointed out that we grew up with Buckingham Palace so I suppose anything is going to look small in comparison.
  • We had none dinning hall food which was probably the highlight. Me and my friend made our other two friends walk about 45 minutes but the ramen was worth it.
  • I LOVED the Smithsonian museum. We went to the wrong one at first – we wanted the Museum of Natural Sience and ended up at the Museum of American History which is cool and all, but I wanted to see dinosaurs. I had such a good time that I watched documentaires on sharks and dinosaurs for the rest of the weekend.
  • Finally, we went to the Washington Memorial last and I’m so glad we did because the sun was setting which made for some fantastic photos, and just the sights in general, see it all lit up was really cool.

New York

I was so stressed about this trip – as always my excitement expressed itself through anxiety: how were we getting to the Megabus stop? Were we going to show up only to find out we were scammed and have nowhere to stay? I’m a worse case scenario type of person. Thankfully none of that happened … but it also wasn’t smooth sailing.

Getting there …

So we were at the bust stop an hour early but when the bus pulled up it didn’t say Megabus so we didn’t think it was ours straight away. That was our first mistake. Turns out it was ours so we got in line only to then be told there were no seats left. They overbooked the bus by like 15 people and we were all left there and told another bus would turn up eventually.

Thankfully this didn’t stress me out too much because the Spain vs Costa Rica World Cup match was happening so I kept myself busy watching that. My reaction to Spains 6th goal was caught on my friends BeReal. I kept myself busy on the bus ride by finally reading a decent chunk of Wolfsong by T.J Klune. I’ve literally been reading this all month because I haven’t had time. Once this book got going I enjoyed it so much, couldn’t pry my eyes away.

And then we arrived!!! And even though lugging our bags 30 minutes to the hotel was torture, taking it all in was so cool. Our hotel was right near the Empire State Building so we saw that straight away. T

hen after dropping our bags off we went for food. We ended up eating in Korea Town a whole lot – if you’re ever around there go check out Food Gallery, it’s like a mini food court with so many options. After food we went into Times Square and I’m so glad we did because Time Square at night was so cool!

Day 1

Yes we were early but we woke up at the but crack of dawn (8am) to go to the Macy’s Day Parade. We couldn’t see much because the crowds were insane, but the giant balloons were fun to see.

After that, we took advantage of everyone being in Thanksgiving mode and still being at the parade to quickly grab some food from Dunkin Donuts, and then headed to the Empire State Building.

I was terrified of dropping my phone but I took that risk anyways to curate a decent Instagram feed … and also send the photos to my mum cause I knew she’d appreciate those more than any souvenir. The view really was beautiful. I’m glad we went on this first full day because that was probably the best weather of the trip so we could see everything!

Then after that we really just spent the rest of the day walking around – we went back to Times Square and checked out Disney and M&M shop. We also headed to the High Line and the Hive. The High Line would definitely be great to see in the Spring/Summer but it still provided some good views. And the Hive was closed but we could still go into the bottom floor to take a look.

By the time we ate (at Food Gallery again), got Mochi Donuts (my new obsession), and headed back to the hotel we were dead.

Day 2

We saw the Naked Cowboy!!! Our D.C bus driver mentioned this dude weeks ago and so we freaked when we ran into him in times Square. It felt wierd taking a photo of a dude in his tighty white-ys so me and my friend pretended to take a selfie

The reason we were in Times Square was because our friend was in New York for the day and we got to meet her boyfriend which was nice. Our original plan was to go to the Christmas market in Bryant Park and then go ice-skating, but turns out you needed to pre-book the very expensive tickets.

While we were walking about Bryant Park the England vs USA World Cup match was going on and listen, yes I’m mostly rooting for Spain (as always) but I’m still invested in Englands matches, especially this one. There was a place showing the match there and I was in there when USA made a shot that hit the post. Everyone groaned loudly and then you just had me going “yeah!”. My friends dragged me away before I could get myself in trouble.

After that we got the subway down to Union Square Christmas market. I was lagging by this point. I was very tired, my entire body hurt, but we still went in and out of a bunch of shops. On the way home we grabbed McDonalds and I cannot rate it. I’m sorry USA but you’re McDonalds is not good – I never thought I’d complain about my fries not being salty.

My highlight of Day 2 was going to Barnes & Nobel!!! While my friends had a long list of stuff they wanted to do in New York, mine was really just Times Sqaure, Empire State and Barnes & Nobel. I had a plan going into this paradise: I wanted the US cover of Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I am now saving for my plane ride home and I wanted Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater because I want to read it asap. I also wanted a signed copy, idealy of one of these.

In the end I got both of them … plus a signed copy of My Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong. I hummed and ahh-ed about this one for ages because I do have an e-ARC of it but there are some books that I just can’t get into through e-book and this seems to be one. Also it’s signed!!! I had to.

I also managed to convince my friends to buy a couple for which I am very proud. Two days later on, our last day, I begged my friends to go back so I could get a copy of Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph Write. I’ve had my eye on this book for ages now and it’s not available in the UK so I caved, especially since my friend bought a copy just because she liked the cover. It’s so pretty. I’m very happy with my purchases even if they did proper weigh me down.

Day 3

Saturday was probably my favourite day of the trip. We slept late, but we needed it because we were lagging after being on the go so much. But then after that we got on the subway and headed Uptown to the Natural History Museum, and then to a Salem Witch exhibit my friend was dying to see.

After that we got food at a Juice bar. It was overpriced but I was still thinking about that turkey & pesto sandwich the next day so maybe it was worth it. Then we walked through Central Park which I really enjoyed. Just to be able to say “yeah, I’ve been through central park”.

The night was by far my favourite thing we did though because … WE WENT TO BROADWAY!!!!

We went and watched Beetlejuice and oh my gosh I want to go again. I had such a good time! The songs, the sets, the costumes, the adaptation of the story. It was literally a masterpiece! I kept focusing on one thing and having to snap myself out of it to soak it all up. We got slushies and I didn’t even care that it was $9 because I got to keep the cup and I was so excited! Literally best part of the last 3 months.

Going home

I was stressed. I woke up stressed. My travel anxiety does not play around, even when I’m travelling with two other people.

The mornign started off good, we checked out the hotel, they kept our bags in the lobby, and we headed to Rockerfella Centre. Unpopular opinion (maybe?) but I enjoyed this view more than Empire State. I don’t know, you could just see things better.After that we got our last minute gifts – keychain for Dad, Baby Bowser plushie from Nintendo shop for my brother, that 4th book for me. And then we headed back to the hotel to get our bags, and get ready to leave.

This is where the stress started. For one thing it was raining so bad so we were all wet, cold and miserable to begin with. Lugging our bags for that 30 minutes walk to the bus stop was even more torturous this time around and I was convinced we were going to be late and miss the bus. Despite making good time we were not going to be early enough to calm my anxiety.

Finally we got there and found the line that literally went around the block. Irrationally, I started thinking we wouldn’t get a seat and would be stranded because that’s honestly a common thing that keeps happening to me on my travels. Even though my friend saw the 3 busses, I didn’t chill til we were sat in our seats.

By this point I just wanted to close my eyes, listen to my music full blast and calm down … except I plugged my headphones in and no sound came out. The rain had got into my speakers and headphone port. I started laughing because if I didn’t I would have cried. Like everything else this was quickly fixed because my laptop was charged and I’d downloaded the last couple episodes of Wednesday so I just watched that.

Then I had to deal with delays, emailing the car company to tell them about delays, the driver having to legit fix the bus. By the time we got back to campus I was so relieved. I ate cold chips our friend got from the cafeteria before it closed, demolished them and took a long ass shower.

So yeah, those are my favourite things I’ve done while I’ve been here in the USA. I literally have about 2 weeks left at this point which I know are going to fly by just because of how much uni work I have to do. I’m so looking forward to going home now though, sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, seeing my dogs!

Like I said though, I’m so glad I did study abroad. I’ve met a small group of really great friends, two of us are going to a concert in June, we’re already talking about going to visit the fourth friend in France next year. I’m really looking forward to, in a couple months, coming back to this post and being able to relive everything. I’ve also taken so many photos in the past 3 months that I’m going to have them printed and put them in a physical album.

I’d absolutely love to know if you’ve been to the USA? What did you like/dislike about it? If not, is there anywhere here you want to go? Thanks for reading :))

Elli xx

11 thoughts on “The best bits of study abroad: College Football, D.C and New York City”

  1. “We went to the wrong one at first – we wanted the Museum of Natural Science and ended up at the Museum of American History which is cool and all, but I wanted to see dinosaurs” if that isn’t a whole mood
    I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying studying abroad here in the states!!! lol I can relate to the football thingβ€”I don’t have any desire to go to any of our college games but our team only has one (1) win to our name πŸ’€
    your experience sounds like so much fun!!! and you got to see the thanksgiving day parade, how cool is that? seems like the states treated you well for the most part, glad you’re enjoying yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha me and my friend were looking around at the big American Flag art piece in the entrance, and then looking at the map with exhibits that all has “american” in the title and we were just like “k but where’s the dinosaurs” and it legit took us a couple of minutes to realise we were in the wrong place.
      Yeah study abroad has been fun. Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m a fan of american football now (don’t tell my dad will disown me). 1 win is better than none like my school lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like you had an amazing time on your trips!
    I’ve always wanted to go to DC… maybe one day. I love NYC it’s just so much fun and there’s so much to do – there’s never enough time to do everything. You could go back multiple times and still not do everything there is to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oooh looks like you’ve had a fun time! i’m from 10 minutes outside of DC, so i’m glad to hear you enjoyed my city! the natural history museum is definitely a favorite of mine (i actually volunteered there as a teen), so i’m happy you got to go! if you ever come back, you should check out the library of congress, folger shakespeare library, the african american museum, the native american museum, the natioinal botanical gardens, kenilworth aquatic gardens, the kennedy center, georgetown waterfront, adams morgan restaurants, and the howard u/shaw neighborhood—and definitely eat at the native american museum and also busboys and poets (the local poetry club/bookstore/restaurant)! there’s so much to explore beyond the smithsonian and federal buildings!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you had a great time! We were in the same state during Thanksgiving lol but I was in upstate New York. I was in Philadelphia for a week before that though and my kids had so much fun going to the museums. We didn’t have time to make it down to DC – I’ve never been, but maybe in the future my hubby and I will plan another trip there. Glad your experience studying abroad was a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

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