“Pop. Six. Squish. Uh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz”. MSU is coming, oh yeah we’re coming, Chicago won’t quite be the same. From Niagara Falls to Chicago, this week was non-stop; our week spent studying ended by two different, yet amazing cultural experiences.

After a long bus ride from East Lansing, our week began in Niagara Falls, with close to the entire contingent of students descending on the TGI Fridays next to the hotel. After having been cooped in our dorms for the previous week, when we finally saw our rooms for the stay, we were overwhelmed with the luxury. We had gone from single beds, kept cool by a fan plugged into a wall, to a large air-conditioned room and a shower that felt so good after a week of having dormitory showers.

The Saturday morning dawned, and equipped with our Niagara Passes, we split to try and make the most of the experience. From a walk along the most dangerous rapids in the world, to a journey behind the Horseshoe Waterfall, where you could feel the thunderous power of the water rushing over the edge, the highlight of the trip was definitely the Hornblower Niagara Cruise.

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Decked out in attractive ponchos, we boarded the ship and found ourselves against the railings on the upper levels. What started as a gentle spray on our face as we passed the picturesque American Falls, turned into a drenching as we approached the famous Horseshoe Waterfall.

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The curved waterfall loomed tall and majestic, and suddenly there was water everywhere as the spray splashed against our faces and soaked our clothes and hair, with our ponchos being the only protection against the deluge. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time that I laughed that hard, as we stood there, among one of the seven natural wonders of the world, water whipping around us. It’s an experience you can’t really describe, but rather one you need to experience.

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Our Canadian weekend was soon over, and it was back onto the buses for a longer than expected return home. A bus break down before we had reached the border left us stranded for four hours. Luckily, the bus managed to trudge to a service station and an ice rink, so we huddled in the air conditioned sports bar that overlooked a game of ice hockey, and managed to watch Portugal win the 2016 Euros. By the time we finally reached MSU, it was midnight and class was still scheduled for the next morning, and for us International Arbitration and Litigation students, it also meant that our first assignment was due.

I can say with all honesty, and this is an opinion shared with all the fellow students I have asked, but Professor Mary Bedikian is one of the best teachers I have had in my university career. Her general enthusiasm for teaching makes being in her class a pleasure, and even something that should be as tedious as an assignment almost seems fun. For our first major assessment we were supposed to draft either a mediation or an arbitration clause, after role-playing a negotiation between a number of states. The entire experience allowed us to practically apply what we had been learning and helped to really foster an understanding about the class content as a whole.

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The week continued with classes, with the American Semester Program managing to find even more activities to keep us occupied after we finished learning. Karaoke, movies, ice-cream socials, a salsa class in a bikie clubhouse and a rambunctious game night are only the precursor to the nights spent out partying for those who wanted more fun, or a welcome distraction before a night of readings and studying for those who sought a quieter night.

We were also exposed to the quintessential American Mid-West when we went to Eaton County Fair. Deep fried everything and lemonade, with the sun beating down on us as we rode the Ferris Wheel and ran through the fun house. The roar of monster trucks was the ever present sound track to the evening, and the language barrier that our accent presented had to be overcome in order to get some soft drinks.

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Thursday bought us to the Windy City, where stretching skyscrapers took over city scapes and every single person took a picture in front of a giant, reflective silver bean, more commonly known as the Cloud Gate. The only problem with Chicago is that there is so much to see, and we don’t have enough time in which to see it. Tomorrow at midday we pack our bags and hop back onto the bus to East Lansing, where our final week of studies, exams, graduation and a plane ride back home await.

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A special thanks to those who let me use their photos in this blog!