Added on Tuesday 30 Mar 2010
Greetings from across the pond! My name is Roisin Brady, I am 22 years old and I?m a third year Journalism and English student at Edinburgh Napier University. However, I have spent the last four months in Texas, home to the Dallas Cowboys and Chuck Norris (he really can believe it?s not butter).
I decided to apply to be an exchange student for two reasons: I studied in Ohio in my last year of high school and loved it; and in the current employment environment, students who want to delve into the world of Journalism need to do everything they can to set themselves apart. So here I am.
So let me summarize my first semester at the University of North Texas. Academically, it is the most amazing experience of my life. The classes I took include American Literature (I got to read some incredible stories from the Harlem Renaissance and the Beat Generation and my lecturer looks exactly like Colonel Sanders) and Creative Non Fiction Writing (I have to write about my own life, which is basically four months of very cheap therapy, and our final exam was a reading of our work in a local bar). The only down side is that attendance is compulsory and missing classes results in marks being taken off your final grade. But if sporadic lecture attendance is part of your academic charm, never fear! Not all American Universities abide by the particular code.
But forget about the work, ?cause really, that is not what my friends back in Scotland ask me when I chat to them on Facebook or Skype. Usual enquiries include, ?do you live in a dorm??, ?do they all drink out of the red cups like in the movies?? and ?who are all the hot guys in your photos??.
Yes, I live in a dorm. Kerr Dorm to be exact, which houses about 1000 students and my roommate Kristen is a very cool lesbian from Austin (I kid you not). Yes, when there are parties every one drinks out of the red cups, it?s still pretty surreal to see. And the hot guys and either my friends who are part of the Phi Kappa Alpha or Kappa Sigma fraternities. They?re so much fun, are exceptionally good at Beer Pong, and if I had a sister, I wouldn?t let them anywhere near her!
But it?s not all frat parties and 2pm lectures with the KFC Colonel. Since I?ve been in North Texas, I regularly make the 30 minute drive to Dallas to go clubbing or see some bands, like the Swell Season. Austin is also a great night out, with all the rooftop clubs and piano bars on the infamous 6th Street. But my favourite part of Texas is the San Marcus outlet malls. Abercrombie & Fitch, Nine West and Victoria?s Secret all at prices that put Primark to shame. Shopping Nirvana, my friends, shopping Nirvana.
So far, I?ve learned a lot from my time in Texas. Like if you go swimming in a river and accidentally split your head open, it?ll cost you $800 on your insurance (I have a new found appreciation for the NHS). And that having a Scottish accent in Texas will get you free drinks, band recommendations from American Apparel employees and 5000 Miles by the Proclaimers played pretty much everywhere you go!
Howdy y?all! I hope you are all settling back into classes and that the Scottish weather doesn?t suck too badly. Contrary to popular belief, Texas isn?t a sauna all year round and unfortunately it?s pretty chilly outside. But at least I have been able to put my Scottish wardrobe to use this month ? most of my winter clothes from home have been bundled into a box under my bed since I arrived here at the end of August!
Things have been ridiculously hectic since my last column in January. Of course, there was Superbowl Sunday ? football, half time shows and way too much food. However, probably the most exciting development is that, after a lot of consideration, I decided to take the plunge and join a sorority - an organization made up entirely of females that own a house on campus and participate in the Greek life.
Greek life is the events and parties hosted by the fraternities and sororities at universities all across the United States. I?m pretty sure that you?ve all seen some movie that has featured a sorority house, or sorority girls. Before I came to UNT, the Hollywood perception of Greeks was basically all I had. What I didn?t realize was:
1) Their campus houses, where a lot of the girls live, are REDICULOUS. They make MTV Cribs looks average.
2) Sororities are dedicated to their philanthropies. The charities that they raise money for are a main focus of their group and they take it very seriously.
3) It is really expensive to join a sorority. For one semester, it works out about $1200. You guys can do the currency exchange!
All that being said, I met various girls from the many sororities at UNT and decided that the girls of Zeta Tau Alpha were the nicest, most outgoing of them all and that they had the balance of partying and class focus that I?m looking for. The Zeta girls are fun, and don?t seem to be the superficial, nasty girls that I expected from the movies. And at the end of the day, I?ve had such a blast here over the last six months that helping with their philanthropy ? Breast Cancer Awareness ? seems like the best way to keep my good karma flowing.
Now - from American traditions to American travel. One of the main reasons I wanted to apply to a Southern State University was so that I would be able to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana for Mardi Gras. This February holiday is a weeklong celebration that climaxes on what we call Pancake Tuesday (Fat Tuesday as it?s known here is the States). The carnival week in New Orleans is world renowned and was especially infamous this year because just one week before, the New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl. My friends - that is a whole lot of partying to be done!
After managing to book a motel room in the dodgiest part of the French Quarter (accommodation at Mardi Gras starts to get booked up months in advance) myself and about fifteen other exchange students spent three days and nights partying on Bourbon Street, collecting hundreds of beads, drinking Hurricanes at the infamous Pat O?Brien?s bar and dancing our way through the parade floats. It was a chaotic carnage, and one of the best weekends of my life. That?s another tick on my ?Things to Do Before I Die? list!
Next up ? Spring Break in Florida!