During my second year here in Exeter I was given the opportunity to apply to study abroad for a year. This was something I’d always wanted to do and eventually decided that I wanted to go to Colorado, USA and study at Colorado State University. I can honestly say this turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made!

I really couldn’t have picked a better state to live in for a year. Colorado is a beautiful environment! Every morning when I woke up I could see a mountain range to the West. The weather was certainly a nice change from England too, 300 days of sunshine as the locals always told me, and when it wasn’t sunny it was snowing! The American college experience was pretty different from the one I’d become accustomed to in England. All the students, and the whole local community, really care about college sport. Thousands of people attend the sports fixtures each week, and not just American Football matches, events like Volleyball and Swimming Galas consistently draw capacity crowds too. It really couldn’t be more different than here in England where university sports fixtures are lucky to get more than a man and his dog come to watch, minus the BUCS rugby final of course! I also got a taste of Greek Life, which was a real culture shock. Sororities and Fraternities were a pretty strange, but cool, side of American college culture and I made a lot of friends in these societies which meant I could go to a lot of frat and sorority events and parties.

Academically studying in Colorado allowed me to try and broaden my knowledge by taking modules that aren’t offered here in Exeter. A great example of this was a Sports Management module run in conjunction with The Denver Broncos Sports Management Institute. The lecturer actually had a Superbowl ring which was pretty cool! I was also able to complete a Master’s level module called Electrocardiography and Exercise Management which was a good challenge and very interesting – I’ve been able to learn about ECGs and how to interpret them. Another class I opted for was called Neuromuscular Aspects of Human Movement, which was a very in-depth exploration in Neuromuscular Physiology with some really exciting lab classes that allowed me to measure my EMG responses to various stimuli and tasks. Whilst there I was also lucky enough to become an Exercise and Sport Psychology Intern with one of my lecturers. During the semester we completed tasks like helping design a psychologically conducive player environment in the new football stadium and setting up a research study for ultimate frisbee players.

My favourite part of studying abroad was all the travelling I was able to do. I was lucky enough to visit 12 states over the 11 months I was in America! My highlights included visiting Seattle over Thanksgiving and watching the Seattle Seahawks play in the NFL. I also went to New York City for 2 weeks over New Year and watched the ball drop in Times Square. I completed a 2000+ mile road trip across the south from Colorado, through New Mexico, across Texas, to New Orleans, through Mississippi and ending in Memphis. The expense of travelling in the US is much higher than it is here in Europe, but it was so worth it and I’d recommend to everyone reading this to try and travel as much as you can because there’s so much world to see! Oh and if you’ve ever wondered where to get the best barbeque in the world, get yourself on the next flight to Memphis!

My year abroad in Colorado was the best year of my life. I’m lucky enough to have made so many friends who reside across the globe. My roommates and all my friends back in America as well as my best friends who live in Australia and Ireland. I’m already saving up to go and visit them all! The hardest part about deciding to do a year abroad was the fact that I knew that all my friends from Exeter would have graduated by the time I returned to write this, and that has made returning to Exeter harder than I’d have liked, but being brave enough to accept my offer from CSU is something I will always be proud to have done.

Thanks for reading!

Ben Evans (be231@exeter.ac.uk)