Emily’s year abroad studying in the USA

Emily Haisman is a third-year student at DMU currently studying Psychology. She shared her experience of studying at Northern Kentucky University in the USA.

I knew travelling and spending a year on exchange was something I wanted to do and when I was applying to DMU I wanted to make sure that was an option. Because of COVID I had been a bit unsure about moving overseas.

But it was when I was looking at housing for my final year at DMU that I thought ‘I just have to apply’. When I was younger I’d see American colleges on film and watch videos of American campus life on social media and it was something I really wanted to experience.

I applied for one US university and I was waiting and waiting to hear back. Then at the final minute the university decided, because of COVID, that they were not going to allow overseas students to travel there.

I was devastated and it was a stressful 24 hours but DMU Global got in touch and said there was a space at the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and did I want to go?

The DMU Global team and NKU made things very easy for me. I arrived at the end of August 2021. The first thing that hit me was how much warmer it was. I didn’t expect that. And the people were so helpful. I already knew who my room mates would be and so that was all fine. I arrived a week into term so lectures were already underway, which meant the campus was busy and I could hit the ground running.

There were so many events happening and I really liked the teaching in Psychology. It felt like I was back in school in a way. I was so used to big classes and lectures but at NKU groups were a lot smaller and it was just like the films I had seen about American high school  – with the one arm flip down desks and all the professors knowing your name.

It was a lot more intimate and it meant I made friends a lot more quickly. When I walked through campus every day there were people everywhere saying ‘hi’. It was so friendly.

The international students had trips arranged during the year. I went on a spring break trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee with South Americans, Asians and Europeans and it meant we all cooked different foods I had never tried before. It was a great experience.

Sport on campus was also an eye opener. We went to watch the NKU Norse basketball team play at the arena (which holds 10,000 people) and tickets were free. They were playing their rivals from the University of Cincinnati and weren’t expected to win. The campus is alcohol free but this was a huge game and so there were tailgate parties in the car park. NKU won and I had never seen scenes like it.

I made a best friend, Kayla, who is now here at DMU on exchange. She was one of my room mates and for the Labor Day holiday in September I went to her family’s lakeside retreat and went on their boat – it was incredible. I also went to Frat Parties and celebrated Halloween – I went as a student from Ravenclaw in Harry Potter. I stayed at Kayla’s house a few more times and now the roles have reversed. She has been to see my family in Milton Keynes and we have had trips to London together. She is a friend for life.

I would say to any student considering an exchange to go for it. I had to take funding the trip into consideration and think about how much I could spend each day, but it is manageable. It is by no means cheap to go to the US. But it is not as much as people might think.

My family and friends have certainly seen a change in me since I got back in the summer. They can see I am more confident and after a year at NKU I seem to be an even happier person.