In choosing Alaska for exchange, I have needed a lot of support. I have not found a core group of friends and have not found my niche yet. Classes have definitely helped in the “meeting people” category of my life, and so has work, but I have not quite found a group to mesh with. Thankfully, I have had a lot of support from back home.
My twin sister, Emily, has been so supportive of me throughout this big journey in my life. One thing that really helped me in the time leading up to leaving home was knowing that she was going to be starting on a very big journey for herself. This past week she flew to Australia to study abroad for a semester. Knowing that she was going to be going through the same thing helped me feel more at ease. Even though we are so far apart, we are doing something together, which is oddly comforting. It definitely helps me miss home much less because I know that she is missing home, too. We are on a journey “together” as sisters.
Although I have not yet been able to build strong relationships with good friends, I know that it takes time. Classes have been a great way to make and build friendships and I have been trying to get out and about to meet new people. My days on campus are not typically very eventful. This semester I am taking thirteen credits. I have a class every morning and I am done before noon every day. My adventures here, like going to the Yukon Quest and getting to see the northern lights, have happened because I have met so many new people in my classes.
Since I have a fairly light course load this semester, I decided to apply for a job at the bookstore on campus, got hired, and started within a week. I really enjoy the job as it is a pretty laid back environment and I am able to work on homework. I like my coworkers and I consider a couple of them to be friends. I also meet so many new and interesting people who are shopping. It is intriguing to find where our customers are from. Not only are they from all over the country, but from around the entire world!
Most evenings after work, I have another class. On Mondays and Fridays, I have concert band rehearsal, which I really enjoy. Music allows me to escape the world and all of my outside thoughts; all I think about is the music which is such a therapeutic experience. I always feel better in every way following a music rehearsal. After rehearsal, I always get dinner with my friend Ben. Ben is also on exchange for a semester; he is from the University of New Hampshire. We have become pretty good friends and it has been nice to have someone to talk to about exchange.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays after work I have a class called Intro to Weaving. It started a few weeks into the semester I have learned a lot about weaving and have actually made a few items! I made a scarf in two class periods and have started a small tapestry, both of which I am quite proud of. I have been able to meet some non-college students through the class, which has been pretty refreshing. It is nice to expand your network.
I may not have found my perfect “niche” but I am making good progress towards a core group of friends by meeting new people who I know will be good friends and provide me with any support knowing that I would do the same for them. And I have a friend in my sister who is on a shared journey away from home.
Submitted by Sarah Staedy