Sara De Haan studying Overseas at North Carolina State University in the US

My time in the USA

I have just finished a semester studying at North Carolina State University in the United States and I can say it was truly the best six months of my life! If you are tossing up whether or not you should go on exchange, all I can say is just to take the chance and do it – you will grow enormously as a person and uncover life-long friendships).  I cannot rave enough about NCSU and the international dorm, Alexander Hall, also known as the Global Village. Alexander Hall is a residential dorm for international students, where they pair you with an American student. All of the Americans and exchange students went from being strangers to one big family, who will stay with me forever. The hardest thing about being on exchange is having to say goodbye to the amazing experiences and people you meet!

The students in the dorm organise two trips throughout the semester that everyone (150 people) go on together; a beach trip to Wilmington (not as amazing as our beaches, but still amazing!) and a camping trip in the North Carolina mountains. It was so great to be able to explore the different sides of North Carolina and do it with such a fun group of people, everyone bonded so intensely on these trips and created so many memories together. Throughout the semester big groups of people will also plan trips to explore different parts of America. I went to New Orleans with about 20 people, which is such an amazing part of the US ( I recommend going if you are 21 or older ) and we even lived through Hurricane Nate –  which honestly had nothing on our tropical storms in Queensland, haha! We went to Washington D.C and saw the Weeknd in concert, Washington is unmissable, it is full of so much history and you could get lost exploring all the monuments/museums. Before the semester started I did a road trip up the West Coast of California and then to Las Vegas – all I can say is to be prepared for heat like you have never experienced in Las Vegas! That, and very expensive drinks! After the semester ended myself and the group of girls I became best friends with road tripped to Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville. I cannot rave about these places enough! The culture, history, friendliness and nightlife in the South is amazing! I got to visit where Martin Luther King was killed, the Civil Rights Museum, where Elvis Presley was signed and where he lived and the capital of country music! The United States is such a diverse country with so many landscapes and sub-cultures, and being able to travel 20 states gave me such an extensive overview of the country.

I finished my trip by visiting New York and spending Christmas there, which was honestly a dream. New York at Christmas time is absolutely chaotic and crazy, but equally as beautiful. The last six months have been the best of my life. College life is everything you expect it to be: intense friendships, tiny dorm rooms packed with 20 people, tail-gating in a carpark before football games, Southern food, eating waaaaay too much, beautiful campuses, Southern hospitality, Greek life and so much more! You don’t just meet Americans, you meet people from all over the world, which gives you so many more reasons to travel and visit people in the future. You feel as though all the people take little parts of you back to their home countries, and you too, take parts of them; meaning you are enriched with new cultures, experiences and perspectives on life.

If you are thinking of going on an exchange, I highly recommend the South as you get such an authentic and sport-loving experience, and I especially recommend NC State! You don’t just make friends, you gain a family and become part of the #wolfpack forever.

I love talking about my experience, so please get in touch with me if you want to know more about NC State!

– Sara de Haan

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