First Impressions of UMass Amherst, USA


Time flies when you’re having fun; this really holds true here. I am about a month and a half into my year abroad at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), so I thought now was the perfect time to give you my first impressions of the place.

One of the first things I noticed was the heat; it was much hotter than I thought it would be. Most of my suitcase were packed in preparation for the very cold winter I had been told to expect. No one told me I would be experiencing up to 30 degree weather the first month. So, I am telling you, pack for all seasons. All-in-all though, I’d have to say I am enjoying the weather here so far. It finally feels like autumn. But, ask me again what I think when I have to go out and it’s minus degrees.

Another thing, at first the UMass campus seemed huge. I thought that it would take me ages to get anywhere. However, once you get to know your way around, it takes barely any time at all to get to where you need to be. The campus is easily walkable from every Residential Area. But, if walking isn’t your cup-of-tea, then there are free buses running all throughout campus, and the surrounding areas. They’ll definitely come in handy once that cold weather sets in.

When I first discovered that I would be sharing a room, I was a little skeptical. I have never shared a room with another person before. I shouldn’t have worried. My roommate is lovely, and also very busy. Once we both got settled in, it became apparent that even though we share a room, there are many times during the day when one of us is not in it. So, there are plenty of opportunities for privacy. I never feel like I’m stepping on her toes, or her on mine. Dorm life, in general, was pretty easy to get used to. Sharing a bathroom with a lot of other girls was strange at first, but they are cleaned daily, and I have never had an issue getting a shower when I want one. Everyone that I have met on my floor have been very welcoming and some of them have even become friends of mine. Where I live is not far from any of my classes, and is right next to one of the dinning commons, so it’s never much of walk to get something to eat. Also, the food here is amazing, and I am not exaggerating. I’d come to UMass for that alone. I look forward to living in Brett for the rest of my time here.

Being almost two months into my year abroad, I have already had my first lot of exams. This brings me to talking about academic life here at UMass. Although I had been told of the differences, it was still surprising and challenging experiencing them. I’ve had to get used to being assessed in much more varied ways, and much more regularly than I have been at home. I feel that the key to handing this high workload and the frequent assessments is by keeping up with the reading and keeping on top of the work. I have managed to do this, all whilst exploring the surrounding area, getting a job, and making the most of my time here. Whilst challenging at first, I feel as though I’ve got the hang of it.

So, my first month and a half seems to have gone pretty smoothly. I feel as though I have gotten my routine down and am all settled in. I’m currently looking forward to a trip to Boston and New York during Thanksgiving break. As for the rest of the year, all I’ll say is, bring it on!

Written by Isabelle Currie – University of Massachusetts, USA


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