It dawned on me earlier that I was already half way through my Tucson adventure…and it actually made me a little sad.
If I’m being completely honest, before my year abroad started I was mostly looking forward to the Australian semester. I’d been to the States a few times before, would be far away from my boyfriend, and I just didn’t expect to enjoy it as much. To me, Sydney was where the fun was going to happen, and where I’d truly experience my ‘year abroad’. Whilst this still may be the case, I will definitely be departing Tucson with a heavy heart.
This small city in the middle of the desert hasn’t failed to surprise me so far. Whilst statistically, it may not look like the most appealing place to spend 4 months – I was told by a taxi driver yesterday that Tucson was one of the top 10 poverty stricken cities in the U.S. – it’s small quirks and ‘hipster’ vibe make it an ideal student area. Plus…it’s a lot cheaper than San Fran!
Although the university area is a great example of the popular Greek life, and a mecca for any Starbucks/Chipotle/Urban Outfitters lovers, there is a lot more to the city than just University Blvd.
Venture down 4th Avenue and you’ll be greeted with an array of unique shops, individually owned Mexican restaurants, and bars. It’s a great place to walk down any time of the day, with always something new to discover for a tourist such as myself. Further along and you reach the historic downtown district. I walked around this area one evening, and was amazed to find how ‘un-American’ it felt. Here is where you truly feel Tucson’s Mexican influences. The houses resemble small Spanish villas, again many Mexican restaurants, and some beautiful graffiti artwork. It contrasts greatly from the capitalist environment just a 20 minute walk away.
As well as the differing districts of Tucson, another thing I will be sad to say goodbye to are the abundance of things there are to do here. Whilst we may not be London, L.A. or New York, I’m yet to find myself being bored here. Facebook is always suggesting a free food festival, fashion show, art show, film festival, book signing – you name it, and Tucson have hosted it. I’ve been to Tucson Fashion Week, Tucson Greek Festival, and Tucson Meet Yourself, to name but a few of the events hosted in the past two months. These are also all events I would never have discovered in England (or they would be ridiculously expensive!). If that isn’t quite enough for you, Tucson is also within easy reach of many of Arizona’s best attractions. The Grand Canyon, obviously, but also places like Tombstone, Nogales (in Mexico), many state parks, Apache Lake, and of course Phoenix.
I’m so relieved (and thanking my former self) that I picked U of A as my first choice, as otherwise I don’t think I would have ever discovered just how brilliant and unique Tucson is. I’m also glad that I’ve (so far) been proved wrong about how I thought my experience would go here. I’m loving every minute of it, have met some amazing people, and am actually kind of dreading that long journey home…back to the cold!