Paul Sander – Business Management – Level 2

UMass Amherst, USA

Even the house I lived in had an academic context as I was able to take language classes in the building. This elicited a special way of learning as it was less formal and more inclusive. Not only my house but the whole campus was a very different experience compared to what I have been used to in Europe. It felt like a little autonomous village which can supply itself due to the high amount of available dining commons, shops, postal offices and even hair dressers. Technically there is no need for students to leave the campus which is probably one of the initial intentions of the campus designers. Furthermore, the fact that most student accommodation do not have kitchens leads engenders that a vast majority of students have a meal plan which gives them 17/7 access to canteens across the campus. This is extremely convenient and the time which is saved by not having to cook is immense. However, I usually ‘wasted’ the saved time immediately and many more hours while eating as it was an extremely social event and the longer I lived there the more people I met at the dining commons what resulted in having several small meals with many people right after one another. However, the almost unlimited access to food asks for more intense exercising. Conveniently the university keeps the food-sport relationship in balance as there are numerous sports associations and clubs. Everyone should find something that she or he enjoys and of course the university also has a gym. During the first week of the semester all clubs present themselves which is a good opportunity to either look for a specific one or just wander around and get inspired by new activities. Furthermore, many clubs, no matter how competitive they are, have regular tournaments with other universities or colleges which is a good way to improve one’s techniques and skills thanks to the opportunity to compete against new people.

Apart from the campus and the university, the U.S. east coast also provides an excellent traveling area with many interesting places to visit. On the one hand, cities like Boston, New York, Washington or even Montreal are more or less close to the university. All of them are worth a trip and play a significant role in the American history. On the other hand, this part of the American continent is well known for the unique nature it offers to the visitor. Lakes, coast lines, forests and mountains in combination with very intense seasons provide an excellent experience at any time of the year. When I first arrived in Massachusetts it was still summer with very warm days and nights. This actually lasted until November which resulted in temperatures above 20 C on the first weekend in November. After that the autumn was characterised by an overwhelmingly beautiful Indian Summer and soon after that temperatures turned negative and it started snowing long before it did in central Europe. This gave me the opportunity to go skiing with friends in December when I usually do not go skiing before February.

After all it has been an amazing experience to study and live in America and see how the famous college life really looks like so the next time I watch ‘Project X’ I know what is real, which is probably a lot more than I would have guessed before my time at UMASS.

Semester Abroad Experiences

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