My Study Abroad Experience: A Year in America!

Dolapo Ayofemi, LLB Law Student spent a year at Mercer University in Georgia, Atlanta.

Dolapo spent her Spring Break in New York

Travel has always been something that I have enjoyed so I knew that I would be doing a year abroad with whatever degree I choose to do. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be in the states. Interestingly enough the USA doesn’t offer law undergraduate degrees hence why I had to dive deeper and select universities that had courses which would be equivalent to modules you would find on a law degree so this brought some challenges while conducing my research period. The selection process was tough, but with a lot of help from the university and my advisor I was able to narrow the broad selection of university’s Essex abroad had to offer.

I can’t even tell you how many times I repeated “I’m actually going to be in America for a year OMG” and those were exactly my thoughts until I got there, and to be honest after I got there I still hadn’t let it fully sink in that I was there. Upon arrival the heat was the first thing that hit me. Arriving to Macon, GA in the middle of August was a shock from the mediocre heat – or better yet the lack of it – in the UK. I was picked up by one of the student leaders and as I sat in the passenger seat and watched the city that would be my new home for the next year pass by I couldn’t help but smile that I was finally here.

After settling into my new apartment and meeting my 3 new roommates – technically 4 because one had a dog named Zazu everything started to feel more real. Since I had arrived a week before the start of school I was using this time to familiarise myself with the area and school which was massive. I have to say it looked like what we see in the typical American college movies on TV. Classes started, yeah I mean classes not lecture because they were in actual class rooms with maximum 30 people in a class. Initially it felt as though I was in sixth form again, but I enjoyed the change of pace except the heavy books along with the enormous work load.

Unlike at Essex I didn’t have a single day where I didn’t have class so it was harder to do a lot of extra curriculums especially with classes that start at 8 am and living the distance equivalent to staying at the Maltings to Essex university. Despite this I made a conscious decision to push through and be more out there to make friends and try new things. One day I was in the library – which was a frequent thing for me – getting some work done before I left campus for the day. I packed up my stuff and headed to the toilet before I embarked on my home journey to my apartment and found a flyer for a Christian woman’s fellowship ‘Delight Ministries’ had a kick off meeting that night and decided to go. This was the single best decision I made on my year abroad because that day I meet one of my closest friends till this day and everything was in full swing from then on.

Outside classes most of my free time was spent exploring the state which comprised of a lot of eating. Trying out all of Americas delicacy’s such as Popeyes, chick-fil-a and the list goes on. Something that truly shocked me was that of all the chain restaurants McDonalds is not one that our American counterparts rank very highly, although the menu selection is larger and quite frankly better than ours in the UK my favourite has to be Chick-fil-a, – oh how I dream of that chicken sandwich no pickles – I miss it every day and the UK needs to catch on to that wave fast.

Dolapo with University friends

All I can say is that my experience was nothing short of fun, inspiring and interesting. I learnt to put myself out there and make the best out of every situation I was put in because if not time will pass me by and that is the only thing I cannot get back. Getting to be around people who grew up a completely different lifestyle to me – obviously in a different country – was insightful to say the least as it made me see things from a new perspective and I came to the realisation that even though we seem to I’ve very similar lives there just are somethings that will always remain different. I would highly recommend going on a year abroad because although it was educational and I got to understand much about the inner working of institutions in the American political and legal system I also had so much fun and would never trade this opportunity for the world.

Click here for more information and to apply to study abroad for 2021/22.

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