Written by Constantia Belleza Paat
I have always fancied the American lifestyle ever since I was a kid in Indonesia – maybe because I watched too much MTV, but since I’ve lived in the Netherlands these past years I fell in love with the European culture. Having the need to experience the American culture myself, made me decide to do my study abroad in America. I chose to study at University of North Carolina in Wilmington (UNCW), North Carolina. To be honest, I think I made one of the best decisions in my life.
UNCW is widely known to have one of the best Communication Studies; this is also one of the reasons that I chose to go there. I took a couple of really interesting subjects such as Studio and TV Production, Photography and Negotiation. The communication studies in this school aren’t as business oriented compared to Arnhem Business School (ABS), but broader. With broad I mean that the studies offered are more diverse which makes it more interesting. I would suggest that when you register for classes, you should pick the early hours because after class you can always go to the beach to enjoy the sun. I remember I was there starting January and in the middle of February the temperature was already around 23°C, by the time I had to go home in the beginning of May it was 38°C.
The school itself is perfectly situated between downtown and the beach, however the public transportation in Wilmington is not as good as the one we have here in the Netherlands. There are free busses that drive all over the city that is provided by UNCW and it’s free for students.. nevertheless there is no bus schedule available. This is very frustrating to be honest because the bus comes every 40 minutes but you never know when. The reason is because everyone from all different social classes drives their own car, so they don’t really need public transportation. My suggestion is to make friends with the American students who have cars and you can ride along with them everywhere.
I made friends with quite a lot of Americans when I was in UNCW and to be honest I didn’t really spent that much time with the International students. This does not mean that I didn’t make friends at all with the International students, because I also did. You can check out the lip dub video that the international students made in YouTube, with the keywords “Lip dub internationals UNCW 2010“. I’m the one with the blue checked shirt and short pants. I spent most of my time in America traveling around with my American friends, mostly in the North Carolina state. I did a couple of road trips visiting the hometowns of my friends and spent time with their families. I have never felt lonely or awkward when I spent time with them because I was treated like their own family. This is also the thing about North Carolina, it is known for their “southern hospitality”. I feel that if you find the right friends, they are completely genuine people, although I couldn’t say the same about the sorority girls and fraternity boys.
The places that I visited when I was in America were Raleigh, Washington DC, Virginia, Charleston, Columbia, and Asheville. But out of all I think the most memorable one was when I went to Asheville. It was Easter break and I went with my good friends to the hippie city. The people there were so eclectic and welcoming, added with the unbelievable view from the mountains. The scenery of downtown Asheville is so different between day and night and of course the warmth of the family of my friend that made me feel at home.