Jahiem – England

April 10th, 2023

Along my journey in the UK over the past month I have to say I feel like I have fully adapted and made the UK “home” I catch myself saying home a lot. I have a daily routine now of waking up and eating a $2.10 meal from a local place on campus. Then off to my classes for the day and meet up with my flatmates to complain about the unseasoned food and how we miss our own country’s cooking. These small things make each other’s day and hold us together. To wrap up a good day we all would grab a nice soda pop and listen to open mic night on campus and kick it back to alt, rock, and blues music. A couple of days ago was the last time all of us in the flat would be together. It was a sad time, and we threw a little get-together to celebrate this experience and how much we all have grown as people from the first day we meet to the departing goodbyes. I have learned so much about how to not lean on my own understanding but accept things as they are and apply them to my own life. Although I still am here for another 3 months life will look very different without them. To end this on a good note I have made so many British friends and I will be hanging with them and visiting their hometowns while I’m on spring break.

Classes are finally over the dragon has been slayed! But the real journey has just begun. I write to all of you from a hostel in Naples, Italy! It’s spring break! I’m so excited to take this time and travel across Europe and see so many unforgettable places. Europe itself is a gem that is priceless so making an itinerary that will leave me breathless and experience such diverse culture really means a lot to me.

Starting in Italy I will hit all the major spots and move my way up and around for a whole month staying in hostels and getting a taste of the average European student lifestyle. The itinerary list consists of Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Czechia, Germany, and the Netherlands. The best way to travel across Europe is by train. The flexibility to create your own itinerary and explore at your own pace. Moving forward from travel It is also the exam period one month after spring break so I brought all my study materials with me for downtime on trains or studying in coffee shops. Any little time I can get I will be studying. Many people don’t like bringing work for a break but that is the sacrifice you must make as a student in my opinion to do things like travel over a break this long.

The town of Colchester has a place in my heart. Its small but significant impact on my personal growth and understanding of the world has made me appreciate such a small town with a such big history. King Charles came and celebrated that Colchester was no longer a town and it is a city indeed. With a history of being the first town in the UK, this plays a very important role in what England looked like today. Below are some photos of Colchester!

–Jahiem Hill

February 15th, 2023

I’m finally here!!

I’m fully settled into my new home. Arriving was difficult for me alone, but this would pass with every challenge. Imagine carrying 2 suitcases and a bag across London’s tube system for the first time. Funny enough, I was almost late for my first-ever train ride due to my luggage sliding down the escalator. The embarrassment was unbearable, but when I reached the bottom, I knew my journey had just begun. Thankfully no one was below me; a kind lady handed me my bag and said, You all right? I nodded, smiled, and said next time, I’ll look for the lift as I ran onto my soon departing train.

Arriving at the station and catching a cab across town, seeing the “We are Essex” sign as I got out of my taxi for the first time was confirmation of the solidarity of the SU for the international students. As we arrived, it was comforting and affirmation of choice to come here.

So far, university life has been fantastic in emphasizing community building and student life. Our orientation week was filled with many mingling events and Societies lined up, ready to meet and draw us to them. Comparing the locals’ interactions to locals back home, there is a big emphasis on inclusion and equity among all students looking for an opportunity to be a part of a team. I joined the travel society and made day trips to travel to Cambridge and Bristol and joined the table tennis society and played every Tuesday and Thursday. My favorite thing about being in Colchester has been the student market on campus on Thursdays, which brings thrift clothes, homemade food, pastries, fresh local vegetables, and other vendors that help support small businesses.

Classes have been a whirlwind and a struggle because it has been a big emphasis on independent learning and building off previous knowledge of the curriculum of the UK, which is very different from the US System. Many classes have been canceled and rescheduled with the ongoing rail strikes and teachers going on strike (). The educational system is different from what I imagined. I met another student from my flat from South Carolina, and her experience has been the same. We sat and compared some of the significant things that are different from the Carolinas. We agreed that the most significant things we struggled with have been finding seasoned food, using 360-degree shopping carts, and relying on public transportation.

My biggest fear would be making friends; only a month in, I have made friends from around the world. Who has shown me so much about what it means to be a study abroad student at its core? Through all the ups and downs, we are united by the same struggles and have each other’s back. What more can I ask for. Other than to see my cat back home, obviously!

Next month starts spring break, and I’m super excited to travel with my group of friends as we travel across Europe. 7 countries 22 days

Of all the pictures I have taken here are some of the best moments of being in the UK!

–Jahiem Hill

January 5th, 2023

Hi! My name is Jahiem Hill, and I’m doing a semester exchange program in the UK at the University of Essex! My major is Biochemistry with a concentration in biology. This year is my senior year, so graduation is rapidly upon me. At ECU, I have had the opportunity to be an active part of the ECU research community and become the president of Gamma Psi Sigma. I have resided In North Carolina my whole life. My hometown is Jackson Springs, NC, where I was in the first graduating class from Montgomery County Early College.

Let’s jump right into it… It’s a week until I take off, and I’m still in denial it’s really happening. My bags are not packed, but I have a checklist of everything I need to do before leaving, so it’s time to get started. I had the opportunity to talk with some students already at the university, and all of them have been super helpful in ensuring all your questions are answered. This helped calm the racing questions in my mind only people who have experienced traveling abroad for such a long period can explain. My family all keep asking me why did you choose the UK? My answer why not? Although all the negative feelings I may have about leaving family and friends and jumping into the deep end, I feel this is a time of self-discovery and appreciation and opening my mind to discovering and incorporating things outside my own culture into my life and bringing back new understanding. Soon I will be back with much information to share and use daily.

Of all the things stressing me, the most significant thing has been finances and friends. I have been saving money for this trip since I was accepted, and it still doesn’t seem like it will be enough for everything I want to do. Although I have made a budget for most of my time abroad and what I expect to spend every month. I plan to make the most of my time on a budget and make it fun and educational by doing things that cost relatively low and asking locals about hidden gems in the towns I pass through along my journey studying abroad. I am a people person, so making friends is easy for me. Not being the only international student will help bring many of us together for the long haul.

With the winter break passing, I look forward to starting my classes again! I will take Stem Cell Biology and Ageing, Human Metabolism, Narcotics, Human Molecular Genetics, and Immunity in Health and Disease. All of which will transfer back as credits to my degree! I am very excited to learn how different countries’ education systems work. This will allow me to make the best decision for myself in case, later in life, I want to continue my education in another country. I hope to make connections and friends for a lifetime is all I can see in my future. 4 more days!!!!!!

Above all else,

I look forward to the challenge and can’t wait to immerse myself in what the UK offers.

Decernere, Credere, Vincere

–Jahiem Hill