The Beginning of the End

Time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, many times I’m sure. The study abroad experience is a lot of fun, so the year passes before you’ve even stepped off the plane! It’s so funny to think of the person who turned up in this country in August and the person who will be leaving at the end of June. This experience is about growth and change, and I’ve certainly done both – first of all, I arrived a blonde and I’ll be leaving a brunette!

So, I had all my exams and finished my courses. As an international student, every professor you have must fill in an evaluation form – of course content and how the grade is awarded, the student’s participation in the class and academic position. These must be filled out. Get them done before the very end of the exam month, before the professors go on holiday or get caught up in summer classes.

The student visa expires on the 13th of May, however one is entitled to remain in the country for a further 60 days of grace period. You can travel around the country but if you leave America during the grace period, you cannot re-enter. One of my friends thought that the visa expiry date was the date that you had to be out of the country so he was the first to leave, and slowly but surely, all the Brit Clique trickled out of Albany and back into the UK. Thankfully, skype and facebook keep the world in touch.

I didn’t want to leave so early. That’s one of the great things about living off campus – you dont get kicked out of accommodation as soon as the semester is over. So I stuck around.

Firstly, I travelled to Long Island for a week with a friend. There are cute tourist-appropriate areas in Long Island, such as Port Jefferson. It was nice to visit the place as a large percentage of the SUNY Albany population comes from Long Island. During the week, I also travelled to New Jersey to go to the Six Flags Amusement Park. It was a three hour drive to get to the one in New Jersey but its actually closer than the one in New York State. Its $50 to get into the park but if you buy your tickets online, they are only $35. Its a great place but go early as the queues are long and there’s so much to do.

When I returned to Albany, I then travelled to Lake George, which is another tourist hotspot. Its a small town, not far from Albany – just a few hours in the car. The place is beautiful – the lake is surrounded by forests and mountains and the town is very quaint. Luckily, I went on a day that was absolutely glorious so managed to make the most of it.

The next day, I was picked up by another friend and taken to Connecticut, which has a lot of greenery and mountain landscape. She took me to Old Lime Beach, which was absolutely heaving. All the students were there, with beers and footballs and blaring speakers; rather Jersey Shore-esque.

After that, I took a weekend trip to Buffalo to see Niagra Falls. Its a 5 hour drive, but totally worth it. The falls are amazing and loud and teaming with tourists. For $13, you can do the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you to the foot of the falls and you get totally soaked. After the falls, I went to Anchor Bar, which claims to be home of the Chicken Wing. Chicken wings are a bit deal in the US and they’re really good – if they’re made well, and Anchor Bar does them well! If you get the opportunity, you should make the trip.

The rest of my time was filled with Albany activities. The gym, library and campus stays open because of summer classes. The mall will forever be a source of enjoyment, along with the cinema and bars there. Throughout the summer months, downtown Albany plays host to Alive at Five, a series of free concerts held every Thursday at 5pm on the river front. Apparently, it keeps Albany alive during the summer. Well, you certainly couldn’t fit any more American stereotypes into one place – the jocks, the preps, the wanna be punk rockers, the old housewife with bleached hair, the older woman who wishes she had been cast in Sex and the City, the hicks, the cowboys…take a camera and enjoy the scene!

And now, I’ve been lucky enough to score an internship in the city. So I’m on the Goodbye Tour of the city, and the state, that I have come to love…

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