Hey! My name is Chelsea and I am currently a second year student. I study Media, Communications and Cultures at Leeds Beckett University. The course focuses on the components that make up the media industry including history, culture, art and sociology. I learn about TV, cinema, advertising, popular music etc. This really excites me as I can see myself working within the media industry in the near future, or teaching others about what goes into creating the multi-million business.

I am always intrigued by learning about the media and its history. Therefore I thought it would be a great idea to gain knowledge from an international perspective, especially in a destination which is packed with real life examples. So, I decided to apply to study abroad through the Leeds Beckett University study exchange programme. You can either study for one semester or the whole year. I bet you’re thinking, “WOW… a whole year, that’s a long time” but some students do decide this, and they’re very brave for doing so.

For me, this was a difficult decision to make as I love exploring different countries, and the thought of being outside of the UK for 12 months sounded like heaven to my ears, especially in the USA. However, when I am in Leeds I do often miss my friends and family back in my home city; Chester. Therefore, I decided to choose to study for just the second semester; this way I could enjoy experiencing another country’s culture and experience a completely different style of teaching for just under six months. During these months, I aim to visit as many different countries and states within the USA as possible, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles (California) and New York City (New York).

Fortunately, I was elected to study in my first choice University; San Diego State University. This is the perfect location for me as it allows me to commute effortlessly to some of the destinations on my travel bucket list. Through my research, I have learnt that San Diego has the perfect American and Hispanic culture which excites me as it will be something I have never experienced before. Having a major interest in the media, America was the textbook place to study; being one of the world’s largest media-orientated locations; producing large amounts of world class films, popular music and art. How could I let this opportunity slip between my fingers? I think not.

San Diego State University hosts over 30,000 undergraduate students on a campus size of 280 acres – it is a great place to meet so many different types of people of all ages and backgrounds. SDSU also has over 350 student organisations that you can get involved in; especially recreation, wellbeing and religious-based. This University also has a variety of things going on campus, so I’m sure you’ll never get bored! Through research, I have learnt that SDSU is very student orientated, delivering the best student life opportunities possible.

Despite the study abroad application process at times feeling long, it was also very simple. Looking back, the whole thing was easy to follow. Regulating your organisation and time management skills is a must (once or twice mine were challenged for sure). Two major things that I have learnt from the application process is to a) respond to emails as soon as I read them, or just after as it so easy to forget to reply; you could possibly miss out on key information. And b) add the meetings/and deadlines to my calendar as it can really help you keep on track of when and where you need to be in order to receive vital information about your exchange.

Additionally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep in contact with the Study Abroad team; communicating via email, phone or in person can really help you out – trust me. I preferred speaking to the team through phone and sometimes in person. They always pick up between working hours and are easily accessible. (They’re located on Headingley campus, at Bronte Hall). I’m not based at Headingley usually, so I wasn’t sure how to get there initially. You can either ride the 1, 6 or 97 bus from city campus to get to them. I advise you to catch the bus outside the University of Leeds steps – it costs only £1.00 with a student card. The bus journey takes approximately 10 minutes without traffic and follows one main road. When I rode the bus for the first time, I just simply asked the bus driver to tell me when I should get off. However, I did anxiously stand at the front of the bus wondering if he remembered that I asked, so I pestered him at least three times, “are we there yet?”… and of course he laughed and reassured me. As I got off the bus, the walk up to Bronte Hall was so easy, roughly a 5-7 minute walk; if you follow the signs you will agree.

Here you can informally chat with the Study Abroad team, they’re so inviting and have a hub of information that’ll reassure you about your exchange. They have answers for everything. The lead up to your departure can be really exciting as they talk to you about previous students’ experiences and give you extra information about the destination you wish to visit.

When attending the pre-departure meeting, you are delivered key information about travel and health insurance, essentials you must remember to pack, paid work and volunteering opportunities, your responsibilities as a LBU student, money management, settling in, cultural shock and much more! In this meeting I learnt to NOT stress about the whole experience and just enjoy it. Once you’re there you can always ask for help from either the Leeds Beckett Study Abroad team, your host University, or the locals.

Now that I have arrived in San Diego, California I will blog more about everything I encounter, so keep an eye out for some helpful information, great photos, top tips and recommendations. I am sure to deliver updates about my social and study experience here in the USA – I can guarantee it’ll be a fun one.

If you would like to follow my journey, you can do so via my personal Instagram account.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to writing some more about my experience as a University Student studying abroad.

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