At the time of writing this I've been living in Columbus, Georgia for around five days, and so far I'm quite enjoying the change of scenery. I arrived on the 5th of January to a very English kind of cold after an evening flight from Philadelphia, and the University (Columbus State) arranged for a free shuttle bus to transport me to my accommodation. That accommodation would be a two-person house in a quieter part of the city, around ten minutes from the University itself. Columbus is the second largest city in the state, so everything here is quite spread out, meaning there's lots of wide open spaces, particularly in the northern part of the city where I'm living. Thankfully the University takes up a large chunk of this area, and everything I need study-wise is quite local, the main campus a focal point of the local community. There's also a large mall nearby, although the University campus has several shops littered throughout. The house itself, on a street called Maryland Circle is quaint and comfortable, offering a more independent student experience, although larger blocks of accommodation such as halls are available closer to campus. The beds are big and the wi-fi is always operational, and I'm not sure which of the two matters to me more; after eighteen hours of non-stop travel a few days ago it was definitely the bed. Slept like a giant ginger baby.
Getting here didn't prove as difficult or complicated as I'd expected to be, and the process began several months ago with a formal application to the university, which Chichester helped with. Once this application was accepted it became a matter of getting a J-1 visa, which allows me to study / live here temporarily, and this was all fairly straightforward, involving a trip to the US Embassy in London. The most difficult element in the process was the five-hour wait within said embassy, and it helped elsewhere that throughout the application journey Columbus State were in constant contact, and after a week or so of concentrated UK activity things were basically set, leaving me to book flights to make my way over here. It's worth mentioning that Student Finance offers travel grants, as well as covering certain expenses (including the VISA application costs), which means that studying abroad may be cheaper than it initially suggests itself to be. These expenses can be claimed back upon returning to the UK, and I wasn't fully aware of the majority of these supplements until after cementing everything, so I'd recommend looking into it if you're considering studying abroad yourself.
Columbus State University and its campus has definitely impressed me so far, and I'm already appreciating the communal feel the Uni encourages. Spread out around a central clock tower the campus is quite large, compared to Chichester at least, and there seems to be a lot going on once the semester starts. Already I've been informed of joinable organizations / upcoming events, and I'm in the process of involving myself in campus life, starting with watching a televised game of American Football at the University next week. I want to try and get to know the sport better while I'm here, and it appears that the University is very supportive of its athletics department, with basketball, baseball and football played regularly on campus.
The first few days here have proved to be a settling process, and have involved international student orientation sessions, as well as one evening activity, at which past international students were present. Now that all of the paperwork is out of the way I'm looking forward to getting started properly, and based on the first half-week I'm excited about the next few months - running until the middle of May. During my time here I'll be studying English, and by the looks of the syllabus I'll be kept busy, as I'm taking four modules with two or three sessions a week for each. Most of these fall in the early morning or late afternoon, so there's plenty of time to get to know America better in between. I'm hoping to do some travelling once the semester finishes, and potentially venture outside of the state during Spring Break. I've visited the country once before, and have wanted to return since, the opportunity to study abroad proving ideal. I'll aim to keep you posted about how it's all going.