My American Dream

By: Ella Yar

Can you think of a cheesier headline than this? I couldn’t and that is why I chose it.

Oh, well… I spent my last semester in a city I had never heard of before, in a university I didn’t know, in a country I wasn’t familiar, yet and I must admit I fell in love with both the city and the university. Prior to applying for my exchange program, Madison was an unknown city to me in Wisconsin (or as my Californian cousin would say, a flyover state).

I arrived in Madison mid-snowstorm in January, but as a northern European I’m accustomed to the winter rage of Mother Nature. Madison was quite different, but not an impossible experience to adjust to; after all I was in the land of opportunities, so I learned to seek them in order to make the best of it.

I spent a great amount of time admiring the city of Madison during my time there. Did you know there are over 30 libraries on UW- Madison campus? One of my favorite memories was my little Instagram hashtag, #newdaynewlibrary. Every day I would study in a new library. This increased my motivation because I would spend my day in a new place (sometimes even two in a day).

It turned out to be a great workout too – since my only method of transportation was my two legs, I would walk everywhere on campus. No one could call me a lazy exchange student after all the time I spent walking around campus and the trauma I experience walking up of Bascom Hill every morning for class.

The libraries provided peace for studying, a quiet atmosphere for reflection and thinking, and some of the most astonishing views of Madison you could imagine. It was the perfect place to escape from the busy noises of State Street, but it was also a place from which I made efforts to escape and instead explore Madison. (Spending five to10 hours in libraries studying is tiring for anyone, and being in a library every day can begin to feel like a prison – no matter how beautiful the Historical Society is.)

Madison is home not only to amazing libraries but also incredible nature. James Madison Park and Picnic Point were some of the most picturesque places a millennial could visit. During spring and summer, the number one place to go and admire the beauty of Mother Nature in Madison was definitely the Terrace in the Wisconsin Union. A place where everyone, young and old, gathered; a place everyone felt comfortable and relaxed. The brightly colored chairs and beautiful sunsets truly complimented one another. I witnessed my fellow American students not always acknowledging this beauty because they saw it every day. In the five months I spent there, I did not for one day become tired to that view. I am left speechless even now just thinking about it.

I know for a fact that I would never have visited Madison if it weren’t for my exchange program. I am so happy that I got experience the Midwest with its niceness, cheese curds and overall incredible kindness and hospitality during my stay. Dear Madisonians, don’t take your beautiful city for granted!