Tales from the Big Apple…

“woof, woof, woof, SEAWOLVES!”

What’s a Stony Brook Seawolf? “I’m a seawolf”, what’s your profession? “woof, woof, woof, SEAWOLVES!”. I hear this, and now take part in the chanting, every day!

Stony Brook University (SBU) is home to around 27,000 students (or seawolves!) and is situated on Long Island, just a 2 hour train ride to the middle of Manhattan.  It houses 10,000 students on its extensive campus which has a bus route to get round due to its great scale!

Surrounded by countryside and beaches you wouldn’t think you are so close to the busy, polluted city. This is where city people come to relax, where rich people buy houses in the Hamptons and where I can call my home for the next 4 months. Long Island has the best of both worlds.

Classes are difficult here, they expect a lot from you, they expect students to take part in numerous internships and for you to have done the reading- imagine that!!! Not that GCU expects any less, however there isn’t the temptation of the big city and travelling in Glasgow to take up your homework time!

I’ve noticed a huge step in the workload going into my third year, or junior year as they call it here. Students here decide their majors and minors allowing them to expand their degree over many areas, as I am here to solely study journalism, I am called a ‘journalism major junior’.  All my courses are within the journalism department.  One thing I can surely say is – I have never been blogging so much in my entire life!

The classes are similarly taught to those at GCU however the students are different – most aren’t as opinionated as us Scots! So I have found that I am very different in the class as my opinions to a certain subject may not be those of a teacher and student- which can offend people but hey, that’s journalism!!!

SBU is huge on sports and extra curriculum activities, it has one of the best American football teams in the state and offers over 200 different clubs from Quiddich to Belly Dancing! It’s hard to find nothing to do at the university.

Remember in my last post I talked about it just like being in the movies? Well one thing that surprised me the most was they actually have fraternities and sororities here where each club living in their own house! They all have Greek names and members pledge to be in these groups – so members from each are similar- each fraternity or sorority support different views, religion or sometimes race such as the Korean sorority. When I first learnt about this I realised that American universities are not where students come for social and educational purposes – joining these groups mean so much more than that, they are like mini businesses in themselves.

Last night I attended the Homecoming King and Queen voting event where 10 candidates were running for the post to represent the students of SBU. They made a speech, answered questions from a panel of judges and performed an act, all to gain votes. This was so surreal, as I watched a medical student crunk dance to R&B music!

The Homecoming football game is the first proper game of the season for SBU – all supporters (including myself) were dressed in red and cheered our team on, who won! As an outsider I was able to observe the power and intensity of the game and its supporter. The atmosphere is just crazy, it is nothing like university sports in the UK. It means so much more to the students, with every seat filled with a red supporter it is more fun, like a big party – especially when the band comes on at half time! Cheerleaders, dancers, Wolfie the mascot and the big band are all on the field supporting their home team – another ‘like in the movies situation’! I will try to make most of the SBU games, if not for the football – for the hotdogs and buzz about the place!

It’s no lie that SBU is far different from back home. After all I am thousands of miles away in a different culture…and of course students pay around $27,000 a year for this with most spending five years in university education! Thank goodness for Scotland’s free tuition fees – we don’t know how good we have it!

I am traveling to Washington DC this weekend so look forward to my post about the capital!

Hayley Parr

“The atmosphere is just crazy!”

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