Former exchange student reminisces on old times, looks forward to future

Ana Bates knew she was in for a whirlwind experience as soon as she left the Manchester Airport and headed to America. She knew she would be leaving the comfort of everything familiar: her family, friends and an extremely important item on that list: her car.

But she was ready for something new, something different: lessons to learn, and a whole new world to discover.

It’s been almost a year since Bates studied in Clarion. She still talks about her time here, and reminisces with other study abroad students as well as the friends that she made in the States.

During Ana’s last two weeks in America, she was involved in an accident, one that impacted her more than moving away from home. She was in a serious car accident a day before she was supposed to leave Clarion.

“I was in the hospital, and the whole experience doesn’t bare thinking about,” recalled Bates.

However, she got through the experience with help from people who became like family.

“Never in a million years do you expect something like this to happen, but honestly it made my final two weeks amazing to know that I had a home like this, somewhere else,” said Bates.

The accident gave Bates a whole new perspective on life, one that she said she wouldn’t have necessarily had if she hadn’t been in the accident.

“When something so scary happens it re-iterates the importance of family, and telling your parents and best friends how much they really mean to you,” said Bates. “It’s something I will never take for granted again.”

Once Bates was back in Manchester, England, she was able to do things she couldn’t wait to do after 10 months, such as drive her car, enjoy a huge pot of English tea, proper English fish and chips and sleep in her own bed. However, it wasn’t just the time change that made for a difficult transition back home.

“I had three months off school since getting home and so I felt so out of place a lot of the time,” recalled Bates. “I had no routine, and felt like I didn’t really belong anywhere. I think the reason I felt like this is because I left my heart behind in Pittsburgh and Clarion, and half of me was missing. I eventually snapped out of it, though, when I went back to school and saw my friends and family and kept in touch with American friends as often as I could, [and with] the help from my lovely boyfriend, I started to feel settled back home again.”

Where is Bates now? She is just nearing the end of school, with two months left until graduation. Bates said she’s terrified and excited, applying for jobs wherever she can to hopefully find something soon.

“I recently had work experience at the BBC, and next week I’m off to another news organization, Channel 5 News, so fingers crossed,” said Bates.

She leaves one piece of advice that she wants all college students to know regarding studying abroad: “Jump in and grab it because it can lead you to the most amazing time of your life. I couldn’t dream of doing what I did without the people I met, and the entire experience opened my eyes to a million new ways of seeing life.”

You May Also Like