Amherst, Massachusetts

I wanted to do an updated version of my time at Amherst, as I’ve just finished my year at Umass.

I resided in the fairly “quiet” area of campus. Thatcher Halls. The reason behind this was the extensive language program held in the building. Applicants are required to live in a certain building so they can practise amongst themselves the language they sign up for. I loved every second of it. Although the closest dining hall was a bit disappointing, which I think is actually in the works of being torn down.

By bus, going into Amherst literally takes 2 minutes. Here you’ll find bars, stores, a few restaurants, general amenities and a mini cinema. Side note – I really recommend going to ‘Glazed’ for doughnuts because they are sensational and they have vegan options that don’t even taste like vegan. I mean, I’m not vegan and even I felt they tasted the same as regular doughnuts. ‘Pasta e Basta’ is also a place to check out for the most incredible Italian food. ‘Monkey Bar’ is where all the students went to dance into the early morning.

The closest supermarket, Big Y, is about ten minutes from campus and can be found directly on a bus route. A little further and you’ll get to various food spots. Hampshire Mall is a real let-down though, as it just has a bunch of threading places, a massive Target (British version of Tesco) and shops nobody asked for. However, across the road you’ll find places like ‘Marshalls’, which is a better version of TK Maxx. There is weirdly no crossing between these two locations though, so you’ve got to make a run across the road when empty.

I’m from the United Kingdom, so a culture shock was inevitable. However, here are some key things I wish I knew prior to my time studying in Amherst:

  • If you need a sim, consider AT&T. They are one of the few companies to work with phones from abroad.
  • If you use Barclays in the UK, open a bank account with Bank of America. You won’t be charged for withdrawals from your British card. Amherst, at least from my knowledge, has nowhere to exchange foreign currency unless you open a bank account.
  • Take digestion tablets. Some of my friends and I suffered from long-term food intolerances due to levels of artificial foods and additives in American food. Yikes.
  • To get from Boston Airport to Amherst, your only real option is to take a Peter Pan bus.

Studying abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. I would recommend it to everyone. In fact, most of the people who I met at Umass have now turned into life-long friends. Can it get any better than that?

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