Welcome back to the blog! This time featuring the final few things that I got up to as a student at the University at Albany. So I last left off on the 1st of May and those annoying guests had finally left. But May continues to start out as a nuisance month. After an uneventful day on the 2nd, Wednesday the 3rd was yet another day where I’d have to spend a long evening at the library. Yep, my roommate was having another girl over. This was by far the worst experience yet.
I was at the library until around 1:30am, and at this time I thought it would be safe to come back to the flat and to my room. But they were still in the bedroom when I got back. I was messaging him to tell him I was back and asking him how much longer he would be. After a while he stopped replying which was rude and extremely frustrating. It turns out he’d just fallen asleep! At 3:45am I’d had enough. I just burst into the room and went to bed, I’m done putting up with his nonsense. After that evening I just decided not to talk to him anymore, why even bother wasting my breath on him right?
Shall we move along to something more pleasant? Yes? Okay good! Because the 6th of May was my cousin Niamh’s birthday! She turned 18, which is crazy because she’s the youngest member of my mum’s side of the family. I can’t believe we’re all ‘adults’, it just doesn’t seem right! More strange stuff was going on on the 7th, as myself, Hugo, Caitlin, Etsu and Rikako got together at Rikako’s place to sort out our end of term trip.
So that plan is to rent a car in Albany and drive up to Niagara Falls for the day. Then get a bus that night to Toronto in Canada and stay there for about 3 days. Then get a bus back to Buffalo New York where we rent another car and drive to Chicago (Yea that’s quite the long drive, I know!), then stay in Chicago for 3 days. At this point Etsu and Rikako would be ending their trip. Whilst myself, Hugo and Caitlin would be continuing on by train for 2 days to San Francisco and stay there for 5 days. Finally, myself and Caitlin fly back to New York City where I’ll catch a bus back to Albany and meet my parents there and spend some time with them in the U.S. before we fly back home to the UK on the 14th of June. It would be so incredible to do, and a perfect way to end my time in the U.S.
The end just keeps on getting closer, and that was highlighted on the 9th of May, as this was the final day of classes at Albany! That’s it! No more classes in the U.S. Just two finals left and that’s everything done (except all the paperwork, travel plans and packing!). I’m stunned at how quickly everything is moving at this point, I’ll be home before I know it!
Wednesday the 10th of May was Miriam’s Birthday! On Monday I’d gone shopping for her birthday present: Pretzels! One thing we’ve all come to learn about Miriam is that she LOVES pretzels. She even has a hidden stash in one of the kitchen cupboards which I accidentally stumbled across. It was supposed to be a sort of joking present, but she seemed genuinely thrilled, telling me she’d recently run out of pretzels and needed more!
Caitlin had ordered 2 pizzas which were a medium and a large, but it looked like a large and an extra-large! We also all signed a card that Etsu had made, she’d made a little jigsaw puzzle for Miriam as well with a really impressive drawing of Miriam, wine and cheese. I didn’t know until now just how good Etsu’s art skills were! Miriam’s “cake” however was the real treat of the evening. Somehow ( I really have no idea how) Rikako had managed to find someone to make her brownies with a special ingredient, I don’t really want to disclose what that ingredient was here, but if you use your imagination I’m sure you can guess what that ‘special’ ingredient was. Needless to say I’ve never had anything with this special ingredient in it before, so this was a first for me.
The others were going out in the evening after food and I obviously couldn’t go with them (I’m still not 21). But I did have a fun time with them up until then, and apparently, they had quite the interesting time out.
The next day was quite a throwback to the very early days at Albany, as there was a free barbeque being held on campus. Free food again, yay! I decided to go because I didn’t really want to cook this evening. Caitlin suggested it as she was studying at the library so she was going too. When I got there, there was already a ridiculous amount of people queuing (not very well might I add) for food. As myself and Caitlin were queuing for food, we bumped in Christina! Who if you remember was someone we did a lot of things with early on in the first semester at Albany. The reason we hadn’t been able to do much with her since then was due to her being unable to get wi-fi and an internet connection at her house. This just made things impossible to plan, but I always considered Christina to be part of our group, as she was with us since the very beginning.
It was very fitting that we’d see her one last time, as like I said, we’d all been through the early stages of coming to America and fitting in to American student life together. So it was only right to see her at the end of this experience. It’s so strange that things are coming to an end and that I have to say goodbye. It’s funny how people can come into your life so quickly, make an impact, and then leave just as quickly again.
So we’re approaching the end in Albany, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for one final care package from home! This care package was a very important one as it contained one final card with some very lovely things written in it that made me feel quite emotional. But most importantly, it contained another journal to continue writing down my experiences abroad. I predicted that I’d run out of space in my previous journal, so my family very kindly got me a new one to continue writing.
Also today, was Rikako’s dance societies end of term performance, it was similar to last semesters performance, with the return of ‘Pitch Please’ (still love that name). But also there was the addition of Dan the Magic Man, he was very funny and his card tricks were very impressive. Also like last time, Rikako was amazing and aced every dance she was in with a smile! Whilst today had been a very enjoyable day, it did end on a sad note. This would be the last time we’d all see Seohyeon in the U.S. She’d be travelling to Florida and staying there for a few days before heading back home to South Korea. It was a very sudden goodbye and didn’t seem final, I couldn’t help but think that we’d all just meet up at the weekend and do something together again. Bye Seohyeon! I hope we can meet again someday!
Saturday the 13th of May was Eurovision day! I’d been looking forwards to Eurovision this year for so long! I saw it as a sort of connection to back home and to the fun times I’d had watching it the past 2 years at Swansea with Rob, Kim, Vicki and Kristin. We’d each get to pick one country ourselves that we’d like to win, and then all the other countries are randomly allocated to us in a lucky dip fashion. I’ve picked/received the winning country 2 years in a row now, with Sweden in 2015 (I picked them myself) and Ukraine last year in 2016 (I was randomly given this country). This year I decided to go with the UK (which in recent year is usually a terrible choice to win), as the UK’s act this year was Welsh, so I feel like it was the only right thing to do.
Eurovision unsurprisingly wasn’t broadcast in the U.S. until last year, but this didn’t matter as I still didn’t have access to the TV channel it would be on. Luckily for me though I found a Swedish live stream of it online (Sweden is just the best!). This year wasn’t as comedic as previous years, but it did have a few notably amusing acts including: Romania’s combination of yodelling and rapping, Montenegro having the epic sax guy make a return, and Azerbaijan with a guy standing on a stepladder in a suite wearing a horse mask (he wasn’t even singing, he was just standing there). Throughout the show I was messaging with Rob and Kim (it was mainly Kim), which was fun, as it made it feel like we were all watching it together.
Lucie (the UK’s act) actually did a very good performance, and I liked her even more than I already did when she ended her performance by saying “Diolch yn fawr iawn”. I love any form of Welsh representation so I adored that! In the end Portugal won (not one of my choices and I actually hated the song), so my winning streak ended. Congratulations Rob on getting the winning country this year, I’m taking back my winning title next year though! 😝
Eurovision is always fun to watch, and this year it made for a nice distraction from all the stress of finals and the planning of the trip at the end of the semester. The 14th of May was a quieter day, and all that really happened was that in the evening we planned and booked some more things for our trip. I know it’s necessary, but it’s no fun spending a lot of money all at once. But I’m sure in the end it’ll be worth it!
The next day on Monday, it was time for another goodbye. As I had to do one final shop at Walmart. It might seem strange, but Walmart has been a source of many interesting times. But most importantly, that’s where I first felt relaxed and thought that I could actually manage to live in the U.S. away from everything and everyone I know. This is mainly because, this is where on the first day of orientation that I felt like I’d found friends in Hugo, Caitlin, Oda and Christina. Whilst it may mean nothing to anybody else, I’m actually going to really miss that Walmart, it been a constant in my time at Albany (Just ask yourself, what other blog could you read where someone confesses their fondness of Walmart? I’ll tell you the answer right now, nowhere, that’s where!).
On the 16th I had to hand in/email my first final which was for the history class. I only have 2 finals this semester which is fantastic, as I don’t have to worry about them much this time around. Then on the 17th I had my second and final final in the U.S. It was for the politics class and I was one of the last people to finish, but after that I was properly done! Finished! No more work as a student in the U.S. This week is just full of things coming to an end!
Thursday the 18th of May turned out to be a way more important day than I’d first anticipated. Today was the day that international/study abroad and exchange students would be graduating from UAlbany. We had to sign up to be part of the graduation so I just assumed it would be a little thing. I was very wrong! It was treated like a full blown proper graduation (minus the cap and gown). But we did get a very nice sash with the flag of our country on it which looked very fancy.
Only myself Hugo and Caitlin has signed up, and even then, Hugo and Caitlin had exams on around the same time as the ceremony, so I had to wait on my own for a while with some of the other exchange students. Miraculously somehow both Hugo and Caitlin managed to just make it in time back from their exams. Rikako came too but unfortunately she was unable to participate as she hadn’t signed up to the ceremony (which I think is dumb that you have to sign up to participate in your own graduation ceremony), but at least she was allowed to watch and was able to take pictures for us.
The ceremony had a lot of talking in it from several people who I didn’t know who they were, and even a performance of a traditional Japanese dance, because you know…. multiculturalism! After graduation (that seems weird to write), there was some food prepared “in our honour” (I’ve never had food be made or eaten in my honour before!). We didn’t realise that there was savoury food and just went straight ahead to eating brownies! Etsu also came over to see us and we all took some pictures together at the photo booth they’d set at the campus centre where the ceremony was held. Graduating with my friends was really nice, and I hope I get to do it again when I (hopefully) graduate from Swansea Uni next year.
The next day marked the beginning of the end for the people at Freedom. As today was the day Kevin: one of my suitemates, was leaving. His mom and grandmother came over to pick him and his stuff up, but they also cleaned up the place too which was nice of them. This would save me a small portion of the gargantuan task of tidying the entire flat for the last day.
Next up on the 20th of May it was Nate, my other suitemates final day at Freedom. He’d very kindly offered to take me and some of my stuff to Caitlin’s house, as that’s where I’ll be leaving most of my stuff when we’re travelling, and then I’ll be coming back to pick it up with my parents when they’re in Albany too.
Now we finally move on to the jam packed final day at Freedom and UAlbany on the 21st of May. Not only was today moving out day, but it was also graduation day for the seniors at the University (the graduation ceremony in the U.S. is much sooner than it is in the UK). One of those graduating toady was Miriam! So of course, we all went to attend and see her graduate.
I think there was actually 2 graduation ceremonies, the one for the families where the graduates walk up individually to accept their degree, and then there’s the public one that we attended, where the graduates all throw their caps in the air at the end. The ceremony today had a lot of guest speakers, but to be fair they included some pretty cool people. Including Chuck Schumer, a current New York senator, and Scott Kelly, one of the astronauts who spent a year in the international space station (which also had Britain’s own Tim Peake staying in the Space Station too!). They both gave pretty cool and inspiring talks, and it would be pretty sweet to be able to say that you had a U.S. senator and an astronaut attend your graduation!
We were all of course very proud of Miriam, she’s gone above and beyond in order to graduate, and it payed off, as she made it onto the Dean’s list (that’s a pretty big deal in the U.S.!). It was a lovely morning, but heading back to Freedom there was still a lot I had left to do. When I got back to the flat, I heard the awful sound of rap music coming from the flat, and I knew straight away that my roommate was back to take back his stuff after previously going home before.
The entire place needed to be emptied and cleaned by 6:00pm. I had about 6 hours to make sure the place was in a good condition to be left in; because there was no way in hell my roommate could be relied upon to leave the place tidy. I wasn’t going to be charged a cleaning fee on account of his laziness and incompetence! He was such an inconvenience, as he just made the place more of a mess when he moved stuff around. His dad also came to ‘help’, but he was an absolute waste of space. He just sat in the living room doing nothing as I scrambled to clean and throw stuff out.
Speaking of which, I had to throw out and absolutely ridiculous amount of stuff out from the flat. My own stuff like cutlery, food and bedding, and a majority of the other people’s stuff. My roommate basically took his stuff, made a mess and left me to do all the cleaning! I was so stressed with so much stuff still left to clean, I was worried that I wouldn’t be done in time.
But one of the very few things I pride myself on is my ability to clean. It was a hard task, but I did it! My reward for doing all of this? It was something I’d wanted since late October last year; I never have to see my roommate ever again! YYYYEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!
Myself, Hugo, Etsu and Rikako had planned to all checkout at the same time. But Etsu had finished early and gone to Hyein, and now Miriam’s house, in order to help prepare for the barbeque there that evening. Me and Hugo finished checking out at around the same time at 6:00pm, Rikako had told us to go on ahead to Caitlin’s house where we’d be leaving our things before the trip. We were going to walk, but then though about getting a taxi. But the 2 companies I phones were super rude and didn’t seem to be ‘available’. So we were back to walking and then taking a bus. We both had a bit too much stuff between us, but luckily for us Rikako’s suitemate Molly, could take one small suitcase from each of us and drop it off along with Rikako and all of her stuff.
Even though we left before Rikako and Molly, they still managed to get to Caitlin’s house before us! The bus driver didn’t help either as he just drove past our stop even after we requested to stop, so that was annoying. But it was done, we’d all moved out of Freedom, never to return again.
As I previously mentioned, Hyein was having a barbeque to celebrate reaching the end of the semester, and Miriam had now moved in with her and Lee. They have a really nice house and Miriam even gets an entire basement to herself, which is perfect for stashing pretzels I’m sure! 😃 The barbeque was very tasty and it was a really enjoyable final night for all of us together in Albany (even if it did rain near the end of the evening).
Hugo would be staying somewhere in Schenectady, Etsu would be staying at Hyein’s place. So that left myself and Rikako to stay at Caitlin’s house, and on some very comfortable couches. There was still some stuff that needed to be sorted out, for example Rikako needed to complete her ESTA form (A form allowing you into the U.S., which we needed in order to come back from Canada as our visas had supposedly run out). But Rikako being Rikako meant she procrastinated doing it. She did this by getting Caitlin to talk to her about French and European history (one of Caitlin’s favourite topics). Rikako can be so sneaky, and she kept doing it over and over again. It goes without saying, but I’m really going to miss my friends at Albany so much! Just talking and hanging out with them is the best.
The 22nd of May was the last day of preparations before heading out on our big trip the next day. Rikako had to hand in a form to ISSS on campus and sort some things out at the mall. Whilst I went along with Hugo, Caitlin and Etsu to the post office so that they could send some of their larger cases (a guitar in Hugo’s case!) and other important documents back home.
I then went with Caitlin and Etsu to the mall for one final time. We got food at the food court, and got one free lindt chocolate each from the lindt shop, yes, one single free lindt each. You can buy them individually and the person working there just said we could take one as a sample instead of paying a measly 65 cents. We also went to the cinema and watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which was really good and is definitely worth going to see. After the film, we met Rikako and got some bubble tea (it was my first time and it’s certainly interesting).
The day ended out by us visiting Hyein and Miriam, where they did some of the quizzes on Pottermore (just so you know, I’m a Hufflepuff with a Patronus of a Dolphin and a 10 ¾ inch Hornbeam wood and Unicorn hair core wand) and looked up pictures of young celebrities with terrible haircuts, that for some reason Rikako finds attractive. A weird night, but I expect nothing less at this point!
Again, I had to say good bye to people that I’d gotten to know and come to care a great deal about. So, with a heavy heart I had to say goodbye to Hyein, and to Miriam, who I’d befriended since the very early days in the first semester when she was Oda’s roommate. We’ve all done so much together, it’s so sad that it has to come to and end!
We’ve come quite a long way, and my time at Albany University has come to an end. But fear not! My time at Albany may be over, but my time in America is still set to continue! NEXT TIME: One final adventure in the U.S. (and Canada)! & until that next time…