My Semester at Colorado School of Mines – by Hayley Pedler

Upon arriving back home after my semester on exchange and the following two months of travelling, I can finally look back on six and half of the best months of my life.
During my semester abroad, I have learnt so much about the world, other cultures and most importantly about myself.

From the nervousness of arriving in a new country and confronting a lecture hall full of unfamiliar faces to navigating the perils of a real Colorado winter (and that slippery ice), exchange has not been without its challenges. But I was always pleasantly surprised to find that these were challenges that I could overcome- even when they sometimes required copious amounts of chocolate and newfound Norwegian friends. I lived alone for the first time in my life and realised that I really could do it. I improved my self-reliance, organisation and self-confidence. Most importantly, I learnt to seize every opportunity that presented itself and experience absolutely everything possible.

Study was definitely different, and educationally I have benefited from experiencing different teaching styles and new ways of learning. Further, I have learnt more about the global nature of the industry in which I wish to work, including differences in regulation, technology used and the range of different companies. I was able to meet people on the other side of the world who were studying my degree, sharing my passions and interests, and aiming for a similar future career.

The friends that I made on exchange are without doubt friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to meet and befriend not only Americans but also people from all over the world. I learnt to dance like a Brazilian, ski like a Norwegian (I wish), make sangria like a Spaniard and cycle like a Frenchman. I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing people, who really became my family and turned the small town of Golden, Colorado into my home away from home. Some of my best memories are from spending time with this amazing group: hikes, daytrips, gigs, parties, picnics, barbeques, dinners or even just embarrassingly long Netflix marathons. Being able to visit some of these friends while travelling after the semester was an incredible experience, and brought so much more enjoyment and insight into their home countries than I would ever have gained on my own. I feel privileged to have met such interesting, intelligent and friendly people, and to know that I now have friends all over the world.

Colorado itself was incredible and, having chosen my University based mostly on academic reputation, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The combination of snow, trees, blue skies and sunshine is simply gorgeous and turned me into one of those strange people who walks around taking photos of campus every day. Not only were the mountains stunning to look at, but they made possible many adventures- including skiing, hiking and tubing down the rapids.

Exchange has given me some of the most memories of my life. I already miss my student family, and the excitement of discovering something new or different every single day. I have learnt so much more about myself, and gained skills and friendships that I can rely on for the rest of my life. To anyone even considering studying abroad, I have to say a thousand times over- do it!

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