My name is Elena Patera and I was born and raised in Cyprus which is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea. I remember when I was a senior in high school that I wanted to study in the UK at a university that offered the opportunity to study abroad in Canada or the US due to the fact that these countries are well developed and they provide a wide range of opportunities. Lancaster University provided me the opportunity to do my year abroad at the University of Colorado, Boulder [CU]. My study abroad year was one year full of adventures, challenges and unforgettable experiences. First of all, I am studying Biological Sciences (Study Abroad) at Lancaster University. The first semester when I was in Boulder, Colorado I was studying Molecular,Cellular and Developmental Biology [MCDB]. In contrast, the second semester I was studying Integrative Physiology [IPHY] because Biological Sciences at CU are divided into these two departments. The MCDB department focuses on the chemical properties of the molecules of life whereas the IPHY department focuses on studying organisms as functioning systems of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs. The American academic system differs a lot from the Brittish one but it is very productive and it aims to provide students advanced knowledge via innovative lectures,coursework and midterms. Enough with the academics.. Colorado is a really beautiful state. Boulder is a town surrounded by mountains, tiny valleys and reservoirs. The weather in Colorado is really cold especially in winter if you are used to the mediterranean weather. If you haven’t been in a snowy weather or haven’t done any snow sports then Colorado is for you. Significant to mention that even though there is a lot of snow in autumn and winter the sky is always bright and clear. If you study in Colorado you will experience all 4 seasons! While I was in Colorado I joined two societies. The first one was a dancing society where I had been taught Salsa classes and the second one was a christian organization. By joining these two communities I met a lot of people that were keen about knowing my culture and sharing theirs. During my year abroad I have travelled to many states. For Christmas we had one month vacation so I went to California. For spring break CU offered a program where you could volunteer in a different state for a week. So I took the chance and I travelled to Seattle,Washington with 10 other students from CU that I did not know before. We drove from Colorado then we went to Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and finally Washington. Our topic was youth in poverty and we were working with a company named LIHI (Low Income House Institute) which is responsible for providing accomondation to people that come from a poor financial background. Also, we interacted with people that have been homeless for most of their life and they shared their stories with us. That gave me a different perspective about life and a lesson that we should appreciate what we have. After finishing my exams I traveled to California for one week, then to Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut for 3 days and eventually I spent 10 days In New York. Being away from my family for 10 months was really hard but sometimes you have to sacrifice things to gain life time experiences and priceless friends. If I can sum up my year abroad in one phrase that would be: “ It was a blast! “. I would highly recommend to anyone to study abroad by sharing Miriam Beard’s famous quote, “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,”.
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