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Full Year?

February 11, 2014

I knew that studying abroad for a full year would be a much different experience than just a semester. While I'm glad I chose to be at the University of Glasgow for a full academic term, it has come with its new experiences and drawbacks that has challenged me yet again to be adaptable to change. 

Over my winter break I was able to go back home to Minnesota, however, I wanted to spend New Year's in Glasgow, so sadly, I was only home for 6 days. When I returned to Scotland I celebrated the New Years with a friend and then almost immediately after that I traveled up north to the Orkney Islands. I barely had any downtime during my winter break, and it seems as though this entire year I will not get to enjoy that luxury. 
When I arrived back in Glasgow to start up the new term, I had gotten a new roommate, who, to my surprise, happened to be a fellow Minnesotan. Classes started almost immediately and I started cracking down with my studies, as my impending 9 exams and 60 page portfolio in May are closing in. 

I have been told that I am quite adaptable, and thankfully, I think I am, otherwise this semester would be a lot harder. For example, when I started my study abroad experience in September, it seemed as though I immediately had friends, throughout the semester the same people I met in the beginning had become my core group of friends that I did almost everything with. Most of them were only studying abroad for the one semester. So, I knew that at the beginning of second term I would have to face change yet again and make new friends. The experience of making new friends in a city that you feel is home is interesting and worthwhile, but it can also be exhausting. (However, I blame most of my exhaustion on studying relentlessly, pouring over textbooks that are just "suggested reading").

I am missing home much more this semester than last semester, I miss UMM and the teaching and learning styles. Honestly, what I think I miss most though is Briggs library where I used to spend hours everyday. I never thought I would say that. :)
To anyone reading this who is struggling between studying abroad for a full year or a semester, let me try to give you some pointers from my own experiences.
1. Studying abroad for a full year is definitely worth it-
2. Studying abroad for a semester is definitely worth it-
As someone who is only taking psychology (my major) classes in her time abroad-that's 12 psych classes for me- I would never recommend that because that means 12 exams, most in the period of 1 month:
3. Choose your classes wisely no matter how long you're there for-
4. You will make friends, if you try, no matter if you're there all year or either semester-

I have come to some conclusion that my two semesters here are going to be entirely different experiences of study abroad, and when I eventually come to the end of my time here, I will think of them as separate, yet cohesive, parts of my life.
I know when I conclude my time here I will have even more advice. I just wanted to put some of my reflections and thoughts down now. I am going to get back to reading my wonderful Physiological Psychology textbook. 
Cheers!

-Rachael Blais

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