Studying abroad in the USA: BSc Planning and Real Estate
Rebekah Ellis reminisces about her semester abroad in Arizona, from how it shaped her dissertation to visiting the grand canyon.
Even when applying to study my undergraduate course: BSc Planning and Real Estate at Manchester, I knew that I would take the opportunity to spend one semester studying abroad at one of UoMs exchange partner universities. So, when it was time to apply to study abroad, I had to make the hard decision on where to go!!
It was a tricky decision between Arizona State University (ASU) and The University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Arizona won from the point of view of the weather! I was fortunate to get a place at ASU as my first-choice option to study during Year 2, Semester 1.
Changing my perspective
Studying at ASU gave me a more holistic view of urban planning as it is crucial to address the interconnections between urban environments on a global scale in order to protect the vitality and sustainability of our cities in the future. With the permission from my academic advisor, I chose a couple of sustainability courses to replace my modules at UoM.
These courses made me further appreciate and see that challenges such as climate change impact everyone in different ways and varying intensities which must be solved globally as we all share the resources on earth.
From a career’s perspective, this experience also has given me the confidence to search for employment in a country other than my own in the future, really expanding my opportunities.
Embracing a new culture
Studying at ASU not only helped me grow academically, but also personally. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone by travelling to a new place and immersing myself in the culture.
When I arrived on campus for my first day, I noticed a huge skateboarding culture around the university, so I took part in the women’s skateboarding society! The way the university campus designs for skateboarding, instead of against, actually influenced my dissertation. Now, over a year later from finishing my semester in Arizona, I am doing my dissertation on skateboarding, aiming to assess how skateboarding may be better implemented and designed for in Manchester.
Outside of my studies, there were plenty ASU Sun Devils football games to get excited about! Everyone wears the Sun Devils colours, gold or maroon, for game day along with taking part in other traditions or chants for the football. There’s so much to get involved with at ASU, you’ll be sure to do something you never have done before once you get there!
Exploring a beautiful place
Arizona itself has phenomenal scenery; I visited the Grand Canyon, Page, Flagstaff, Sedona, and Tucson. I also got the chance to visit other districts closer to the university such as Phoenix and Scottsdale. If you get the chance to visit Arizona definitely plan where you want to go because there’s so much to see!
Other incredible travels I did included going across the Arizona boarders to LA and Vegas…you can imagine the endless possibilities there! In LA my friends and I went to the beaches, the Griffith Observatory and Universal Studios. Again, definitely plan how you want to spend your time because you can’t do everything in one trip, and I’m so desperate to go back!
Making new connections
I have formed connections with people that I met in Arizona as well as other study abroad students who I still am in contact with now. Not only did I have a great time with the people I met from this experience, but they also expanded my mindset and perspective, having an everlasting impact on me.
If you are willing and able to take the opportunity to study abroad, especially in Arizona, do it! It will have such a positive impact on you and your life in the present moments as well as in the future!