All the way from the USA to Liverpool

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Megan spent a semester at JMU Journalism on a student exchange trip. Pic © Megan Grabowski

Megan blogs about her time spent studying at JMU Journalism on an exchange programme with Southern Connecticut State University.

Arriving in Manchester Airport, I was anxious and jet-lagged from the six-hour flight… I’m not too keen on flying but was excited when we landed.

I had travelled with two other American girls who lived with me in my flat in Liverpool. The exchange programme I was on made sure that all six Americans were to live together and the other three had flown in before us.

From Manchester we took a bus that the university provided, which then took us directly to our accommodation. It was exciting to see where I would be calling home for the next few months. I was surprised to how spacious it was and that each of us had our own room and bathroom. By contrast to back home at Southern Connecticut State University, first year students share a room with someone and a bathroom with the entire floor you lived on. This was a nice change.

After we unpacked a bit, us girls decided to take a walk around our new city as we went to a few pubs in the centre to get familiar with Liverpool. We had a proper fish and chip meal at a small pub that looked very local. After having a few bants and beers we shopped for our necessities like bedding, toiletries, cosmetics and food, of course.

Freshers Week was filled with a lot of new adventures and meeting new people. It was a lot of fun and it really got me into the life of Liverpool. Concert Square has a great atmosphere and a large population of students going in and out of all the bars. It was nice to have a break before the long semester ahead.

YouTube: Eva Paz

During the induction where we met our tutors, it was a nice surprise to find that we addressed them by their first names. It’s a big difference from my university in America where we address our professor by Mrs or Mr or Dr. The course seemed really enjoyable and I was excited to start this new chapter in my life.

Going through the process of being a new student is also very refreshing. Although I was only taking one first-year course, it was still interesting to see what the first year students go through here and what courses they were taking. I was taking Professional Practice for International Journalists, International Media Law and Ethics, Content Generation, Intro to Broadcast Journalism and Intro to Print and Online.

At work with the second year students at JMU Journalism. Pic © Megan Grabowski

I enjoyed the modules very much and I also enjoyed being with my classmates. They helped a lot and a few went out of their way to help me out which was very nice. I made some new friends and went out of my comfort zone during lectures by actually speaking out and answering questions.

The environment I found in my classrooms was very educational. I enjoyed the fact that we were almost always working on the computer or going out and working with the cameras.

One of the assignments was to film a news piece on something that was happening in Liverpool. My partner and I found out about a new exhibit opening in the World Museum in Liverpool, ‘Animal Mummies Revealed’.  After a few phone calls and emails, we got invited to the press launch at the conservation centre, alongside other working journalists. Looking at the mummified animals was cool and seeing how they preserve and X-ray them was interesting.

It felt strange to be so far away from home when Donald Trump won the US presidential election. I remember I was in bed watching the votes being counted because it was very late at night here and then I woke up and didn’t even bother to look at the news because I’d seen the night before what the count was and Trump was already winning. My flat mates had messaged our group chat with links of Trump’s victory and then in class everyone was asking me about it.

The giant Blacklers Santa on display at the Museum of Liverpool. Pic © Megan Grabowski

Before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving for us six Americans. Originally we had planned to cook everything ourselves: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes… all the good stuff. But we had a lovely woman from the university contact us, Jenn Cahill. She had set up a dinner reservation for us at Browns in Liverpool One and it was a bit of a life-saver, in my opinion, because trying to cook a whole turkey in the accommodation’s oven would have been a bit difficult. I couldn’t have been more thankful for Jenn. The meal at Browns was really well put together and was very tasty, so five out of five stars from me.

My last day of class was a working news day and that was a really great experience to have. The story I had chosen to cover was the Blacklers Santa returning to Liverpool for the first time for 20 years, which was a nice historic piece and I learned more about the city.

My time here in Liverpool is something I’ll never forget. I hope one day to come back here and continue my education with my masters. Liverpool John Moores is such a nice university and everyone working here made it possible for me to have an enjoyable experience and I’ll never forget this kind of hospitality.

About Megan Grabowski, JMU Journalism