Queen Mary English with a Year Abroad student, and Turing Scheme grant recipient, Tom Brierly reviews a year of studying abroad at UC Irvine...
Never did I think I would get the opportunity to come to the United States of America, let alone California.
One of the main reasons I chose to study at UC Irvine was its Literary Journalism program. If you are interested in another subject or potential career path, I would strongly encourage you to take some of those classes in addition to your major. These journalism classes offered a practical learning experience in contrast to my English major as they pushed me outside of my comfort zone to visit unfamiliar places and interview a range of different people. In one class, I interviewed a police officer about his role in the force and police brutality in the US. In another class, I interviewed a US elected official about the recent removal of an Irvine councilmember on grounds of nepotism. I found these classes to be invaluable experiences, not just for their insight into journalism but also for the range of skills I gained.
There are also a number of organizations to get involved in at the University. I enrolled as an intern for the news station, KUCI News, in the fall quarter and the student newspaper, The New University, in the spring quarter. Both of these experiences offered me the chance to get more involved with campus life as well as having some global work experience when applying for jobs.
When researching about coming to UC Irvine myself, I read a lot online about the limited social life on campus and making sure to join as many clubs as possible. This is exactly what I did during my first week here. I decided to walk up to every booth and sign up for every club ranging from the UCI Soccer (football) team to Rock Climbing to Hiking Club. I was not sure what a fraternity was before I came to America, but I ended up joining one during that week. Whilst joining one was testing, I made some of my closest friends through it and made some great memories. The Turing Scheme helped to fund this experience and allowed me to go on trips with them to places such as Las Vegas.
The Turing Scheme also allowed me to explore other parts of California and the United States. I got to visit New York during the spring break, and it was interesting to see how different the bustling, sleepless city differed from the West. In California, I’ve been lucky enough to visit San Francisco and be within close enough distance to make frequent trips to Los Angeles and San Diego.
If you are planning to study abroad at UC Irvine or another campus in California, here are some additional things I wish I knew before I came. Firstly, there is extremely limited public transportation especially in Orange County. It is far from London where you can walk down any street and expect to see a tube station. You may need to rely on your friends and Ubers for getting about. Make sure to also be prepared to eat a lot of fast food! There is a fast-food place on every corner, and you are bound to end up trying California’s In-N-Out Burger. Finally, I would recommend going to some of the campus’ international events as it can be comforting to meet other exchange students who are in the same boat as you.