If we had classes most of the day, the Cross-Cultural
program is also about having fun and discovering the United States of America.
For instance, for the first two week we participated to the
“boys and girls club”. This refers to an organization which aims at planning
fun activities for kids who cannot afford to travel during summer vacation.
After lunch, we would go there and play with kids from 5 to 10 years old. For
some it was a good way to improve their English, for others it was a good way
to meet and see how American kids interact. But overall it was mostly a good
way to improve our stamina! American kids have a lot of energy, turns out.
If every Sunday was mostly free time, we usually had something scheduled on Saturday. The purpose was mostly to visit a bit more Virginia or learn more about the United States of America in general. For instance, the second weekend of this one-month program we went camping. At least that what it was first scheduled, but as rain poured, we only spent an afternoon getting lost in a hike and enjoying the swimming pool. For a bit more sensation, we all went to Kings Dominion the next week. This roller coaster park was full of sensational rides and a water park. Very useful during the summer season!
My favorite trip of this program remains our Washington weekend. We stayed there for almost 3 days and it was enough to see most of Washington city. The visit to the National Mall with all these museums was very interesting! I would recommend visiting the African American and Indian American museums which were very fascinating. The plus of this trip was the fact that we had a lot of free time to build our own schedule. And other such as the Shenandoah cavern visit and Monticello!
Instructive, interesting and fun: those activities were strengthening our brand-new friendships. Actually, I would say that the best thing about this trip is the people I have met. I have built such a connection with them that I have now places to stay in different continents.
What is a typical day at James Madison University?
Before my departure I realized one thing: I do not know what a typical day at James Madison University (JMU) looks like. So here I am trying to solve this one for you:
First of all, all the participants of the summer program live in a dorm. Which means that everyone has a roommate. Fortunately, the room we are in is huge and the bathroom too. To be precise, each apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with one common room including the kitchen. So be mentally prepared to share your life with at least 4 persons. Personally, I spend most of my free time with my new classmates as we all live on the same floor. However, do not worry, you can also decide to be on your own and discover the city (small city, by the way, be aware).
View on Harrisonburg, Virginia
What about the routine? So, every morning we wake up around 7:15 to prepare ourselves before breakfast. Every breakfast is taken in the cafeteria which is 10 minutes away by foot. You can find everything in the cafeteria: you will see, it is great! Classes are usually scheduled from 9 to 12 and then from 14 to 17. It represents about 6 hours of classes during the weekday. Yet, there is from time to time activity scheduled in the afternoon. The most predominant class would be the Leadership class but there is also the Cultural and Diversity Class and the Global Citizenship Class. This schedule means two things: we have two hours of lunch break and we are free from 17 on! Unfortunately, the cafeteria closed at 19 so we usually go to eat right after class: very early for me and my Argentinian friends. But we eventually get used to it.
The main building of James Madison University
After dinner free time! For most of us, it means relaxing, watching a movie in the common area or going to UREC. UREC stands for University Recreation Center where you can practice any type of sports: from rock climbing to swimming and playing basketball. It has been the most impressive building on the campus. It is huge and there is everything you need. Plus: you do not have to pay to borrow equipment. And for the lazy one (like me) there is what they called a ‘lazy pool’ and a sauna. No wonder why Americans spend so much money to go to University.
For more information related to the activity, see the next article.