the end of an era

OK,  so it is all over.  Goodbye America, I’m back in Europe! It’s good to be home, but I miss Champaign.. still can’t believe the year passed so quickly… as it always is when you’re having fun.  It already seems like a dream to me.

Luckily I’ll quite busy soon, as I’m going to start a pilot training in a few weeks so I won’t have too much time being sad.

But Poland’s great so far, I’m spending all days with my family and friends, there is a lot to catch up after nearly 10 months of not seeing them. On the other hand I’m so used to traveling right now I can’t sit still in one place;p

I wish all of you going on exchange next semester great time and that afterwards you will have as good memories as I do!

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Spring + final exams

Spring in Chambana appears to be amazing. Last months’ temperatures were reaching nearly 30 degrees, making it feel more like a summer. Spring break itself was a success as well. I managed to continue my travels and went with a couple of french mates to Florida. We took a flight to Orlando and then rented a car to go south to Miami. From there we went on a 3 day cruise on Bahamas. It was a very entertainng week, although the very first day for me ended up with a severe sunburn. (People, remember about suncream, always!). Too bad the break was so short (I really missed the one in Glasgow) but still it was very memorable. I’ll put a few pictures on Flickr. Of course profesors at UIUC don’t care about holidays and we had loads of homeworks due just after the break (I admitt I missed a few deadlines, ehh). Anyway, spring break is long over, now exams time. I have 5 of them, this finals week is killing me. Everything is going to fast. You don’t really have time to study that much as you do before the finals back home, especially that you know you are leaving soon and want rather to spend time with your friends to whom you will have to say goodbye in a few days:( That’s the saddest time of the year. I really wish I could stay here a bit longer, although on the other hand the campus is already getting empty as some people finish early, so there would be no one left anyway. Sorry for such a short (and delayed!! post this time), but there is really no time to concentrate on writing. Besides, whoever wants to go for an exchange next year probably already knows where he or she is going , so if you decided to go to UIUC (great choice, btw;p) feel free to contact me by mail or on facebook if you still haven’t. If you are thinking of applying here next year, do so as well! I think the time I had here was the best time in my school years, thanks to all the experience I gained here and the most important of all, the people I met. I’m really depressed right now that it is all over. Next time I write here I’ll be alreadyback  in Europe (still not in Scotland though). First, I’ll spend a few days in Chicago which I will also miss a lot when I get home. Still, I’m happy to see all my family and friends after one year of absence. Well, goodbye America, and hope to visit you soon again!!!

Back to school

I just realized that I wrote a post over a month ago and I just saved a draft without publishing it. Ehh, bad memory. Anyway, here’s the post :

So,  January.  This semester seems to be much busier than the previous one. Anyway, past 3 weeks were pretty nice, we have a new wave of international students in our dorm, so we spent much  some time socializing instead of studying. Also, I finally managed to explore our gym (one of two on the campus) and I was really amazed. They have hundreds of machines there, 2 swimming pools, big sauna, 1.5 indoor track and many other things. Very impressive.  As one of my New Year’s resolutions was to finally get some excercise I will be going there more often (well , maybe not that often – usually my muscles are sore for a week after 15-minutes excercise, ehh:(  )

Back to academic stuff. This term we didn’t have to meet with the advisor (last semester’s meeting wasn’t really useful, so I didn’t miss much). Of course, there was a big problem with choosing courses. I’m really jeaslus of people from aero department coming to UIUC next year. They can learn by my mistakes.  I wish I had taken slightly different courses before, but whatever. This term I’m taking 4 engineering classes (some interesting ones, finally!), Spanish again and the best class in the world – ice skating 101;p. I couldn’t really believe that you can get 1 credit for doing things like bowling, playing foodball, skating etc.  I wish I could transfer this 1 credit to my engineering credit in Glasgow, but I somehow doubt my advisor will be enthusiastic about this idea;p. Actually, I’m quite upset today, as I found out I will probably need to take resit(s) in August in Glas, so I get credit for the required classes I’m not doing here:(:(

I’ll post something new in a few days, as spring break is approaching and I can go traveling  again. This time – Florida! YEY!

Time passes too quickly… the end of semester 1

It’s already mid January and I haven’t said anything about what happened since Thanksgiving. The truth is that the last three weeks in December were not to exciting.. or maybe they were, just not in a good sense… I had 5 finals and still plenty of assignment to hand in (you never get the break from homeworks here). Luckily, exams went quite well, I didn’t even have to worry too long waiting for the results as these were available in like one week! Anyway, this was the busiest time during my stay here.

But eventually, hectic days were over and I could enjoy me free time again.  i decided to visit my family in NYC again. A few of my friend from uni joined me so we did some sightseeing together and also travelled to Boston, the ‘walking city’. Boston looked a bit dead as all students were gone. But still, it’s a gorgeous place, and it’s a nice rest from NYC:). We visited all the famous places:  universities – Harvard and MIT, The Old State House, Quincy Market, etc.  Everything was really great, but my favourite part was ‘A Harry Potter exhibition’ in Museum of Science. :D’

Anyway, the east coast is too cold for me so I decided to escape to San Francisco for a week. And this is so far my favourite place in this country! It made me sad that I’m not doing my exchange in California (although I really like UIUC).

The winter break passed much to quickly. I can’t believe it was the whole month – felt like a week at most:( I just hope that this semester will be a bit easier (I’m being really naïve here) and I’ll be able to continue my travels. After all I’m not only a student here, I’m a tourist as well.

I’ll write later this week about the biginning of the 2nd semester. Right now I’m a bit confused with all the classes, and I keep changing my mind about them every 5 minutes. although you have to register for all the courses in late November there are still 2 weeks now when you can change. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated, bye!!!

November

I’ve been really busy lately and didn’t have a chance to post anything on my blog. Luckily I have a lot of free time now. So let’s go back… to November.  First half was just usual stuff… studying, homework, hanging out with mates, homework, and homework again. It might not sound too exciting, but it was … that ‘hanging out’ part at least, thanks to some amazing people I met here!  During the second half I finally had some chance to travel. It’s the second time I got out of Champaign (My first trip was to Chicago). I spend almost 10 days in New York. So many exchange students from UIUC fly there so there is no problem with finding the company.  Just remember to book tickets much in advance. I booked mine in early October and paid about 200 dolars, and some friends who waited a bit too long paid almos twice as much.  I stayed at my aunts’ place, my dad came too. It was really good to see my family (well, part of it) as I don’t plan on visiting my parents and home until May/June. I love the city! And there a lot of things happening around Thanksgiving. Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Black Friday (opening of the Christmas shopping season)…  Ok, the parade wasn’t so great. It’s acually better to stay home and watch it on  TV. The city is so crowded that once you go downtown Manhattan you can’t see a thing. The same during Balck Friday, but you know… all the sales and everything… well, a piece of advice: if you want to save some money don’t leave a hotel during that day:) Anyway, a week in NYC is enough to see all the main spots, althought not enought to enter many of the museums. Actually, I didn’t visit any of them…  I believe that they are amazing and everything but you have to devote the whole for one if you want to see everything, and honestly, after Chicago (where I’ve been to the Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry)I was to tired to do it .

I’ll post some photos from New York soon and write more about it (yeah, I ended up in here again.. this time for nearly a month). As I said before : I NY!

♥NY

In the middle of the cornfield

It has been over a month now since I arrived in Champaing. And I must say I already feel quite settled here although I was having some hard times at the beginning. Starting from the beginning – my flight went smoothly and I didn’t have any problems with getting from Chicago to Champaign. There are plenty of buses that operate from both airports in Chicago. I get of the bus just two block away from the place I live in now, which was lucky since it was the middle of the night and I had 2 big suitcases and a backpack with me.

I live in Sherman Hall, which is the most popular choice among postgrads and international students. I really like my dorm – it’s close to the main quad and my department, room are small but quite comfy (it is important to mention that is one of only few places when you can get a single room instead of shared one), we also have a well equipped common room and a computer lab. So I don’t have any reservations (but I’m not too demanding).

Orientation week. Before the classes started every international student was required to attend at least one orientation session within his/her department. Apart from that there was number of info sessions about housing, banking, health care etc. Not compulsory of course but some of them were useful. The last day before the classes was the so-called quad day, which was really amazing! Over 700 student societies and organizations presented themselves on the main quad. Lots of giveaways and lots of fun. There was every organization you could possibly imagine so for sure everyone could find something interesting.

Classes: 12 credits per semester are required but the equivalent of 60 credits in Glasgow is 15 credits. Maximum number of credits you can take is 18, but God forbid, never do that! The work load for each course is much heavier than in Scotland. There are plenty of homeworks, quizzes and other thing, all which contribute to the final result. Basically, you are busy all the time.

Well, I haven’t explained the title of my post yet. But there is not much to say here- although the campus is really great, Champaign itself is not too interesting. It’s seriously surrounded with the cornfields and nothing else. Luckily, Chicago is only 3 hours drive form here, and it’s a perfect place for a weekend!

OK, this week is a midterm week, which mean – EXAMS. So I better go back to studying!

One week left

Next week I’m finally travelling to Chicago. I generally finished all the preparations, the last thing I need to do is to find out how to get from O’hare airport to Champaign, where I’m going to spend next year.

A few words on arrangements I had to make:

Visa:

There is no problem with that. The whole process of getting visa shouldn’t take more than a week. First, I had to complete two forms (DS-156 and DS-158) and schedule a visa interview by calling the Infoline. The interview took place three days later. Consul didn’t even ask any questions, they just had to scan fingerprints for all 10 fingers. The passport with my visa was sent back to me a few days later.

Flight:

It’s good to start searching for flights as soon as possible, at least a month before the departure. I’ll be flying with Lufthansa and change in Frankfurt (I’m flying from Katowice, Poland). I paid about 520 £ for a return ticked. I could never understand why, but the return ticket to US is usually cheaper than single.

Accommodation:

I decided to stay at university accommodation. They have some halls for international students which are cheaper than those for home students (usually student accommodation in US is a lot more expensive than the one in Scotland). But if someone wants to rent a private flat it is quite easy. I’ve seen a great deal of ads for apartments/rooms close to uni. Try craigslist.com or similar webpage.