If you’re wondering if you should study abroad in college take it from our writer Rebecca and do it. Keep reading for a more detailed recount of her personal experience studying abroad in Europe.
I’ve always loved travel. From camping trips with my family to summer camp adventures to a People to People Student Ambassador trip when I was 16, I love the excitement that comes from going somewhere new. As part of my college search, I looked for universities that would allow me to study abroad. It was one of the biggest deciding factors when it came time to commit one way or the other.
My junior year came, and I was ecstatic. I’d filled out the application, gotten accepted to the London program and finished the prep course. Before I knew it, It was time to fly. I was so excited that whole flight. I had a layover in Reykjavik, so I got to spend a couple hours in Iceland. My arrival gate was right next to my departure gate, so I set up camp and waited it out.
Arriving in London, I already knew I was meeting up with a couple other girls because our flights were arriving near enough to each other. And before I knew it I was officially on British soil.
The next step was to take the tube from Heathrow to the flat that I would be living in for the next four months. Fortunately, one of the girls I had met up with was my new roommate, so we had a chance to get to know each other. After about an hour or so, we arrived. Our flat was a couple blocks from the station, and we eagerly raced up the blocks to get to our building. We quickly got moved in and set up, and then we had a day and a half to adjust to the time zone and begin exploring. As I recall, the 14 or so of us all went to Nando’s for dinner that night.
I loved every class I took in London. Most of my classes were in a small building a few blocks away from my flat. There I took a religion class, an art class, the seminar we all were assigned,and a class about Contemporary Britain, which allowed us to look at current issues and differences between Britain and the U.S. For the most part, these felt like ordinary U.S. classes, just meeting once a week for a couple hours instead of twice a week for one hour or so. There were a lot more ‘field trips’, though. I was at a different museum each week, and I got to visit several different places of worship, and even meet a practicing witch as part of the religions course.
The class that felt the most foreign to me was the class I took through London South Bank University (LSBU). I come from a small college where 30 students are considered an overfilled class. To sit in a lecture hall fitting 300 was a huge change. In addition, we had different lecturers each week as they took turns presenting on their areas of expertise. And the two-hour lecture was followed by a two-hour seminar where we worked together in small groups on a final project. Although this was a big adjustment for me, I found that I rather enjoyed this class. It was structured differently to the classes I’d taken in the U.S. and I found the change pleasant and challenging in exactly the right ways.
In addition to taking new classes, I also had plenty of opportunities to travel, both in London and throughout Europe. I managed to score front row seats to Wicked for less than £30. I visited Cambridge, Bath, Stonehenge and Blenheim Palace with the other students on the trip as part of the course. With just a few of my fellow students, I went to Edinburgh for St. Patrick’s Day. I know, it should have been Dublin, but Scotland was cheaper than Ireland. For Spring Break, I split my time between Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Venice, Italy. With my boyfriend, who flew out to see me, I went to Paris, saw Moulin Rouge, and got to meet up with my cousin.
Even the day to day life was an adventure. I was responsible for cooking all my meals, so I was grocery shopping regularly. I was so glad that I was only responsible for feeding myself because I walked five blocks to the nearest Tesco that had everything I needed each week and returned with three to four bags full of groceries. I ate A LOT of salmon, learned that I have a knack for plating and food prep, and tried my hand at new recipes such as cheesecake and cinnamon rolls, both made from scratch. At the end of the term, I was voted most likely to have my own cooking show sometime in the future. When I have more paleo recipes to share I’ll look into it.
Anyone trying to decide whether or not to take a semester abroad should definitely go for it. I grew so much as a person and had all kinds of incredible experiences that I never would have had otherwise. I can now say that I have been to three continents and eight countries. I’ve been to more museums than I can count, tried authentic Scotch, had escargot (it’s delicious), seen some incredible performances and seen water so clear it looked like glass.
I can’t wait to go back.
For a more detailed, week by week look at my semester, check out the study abroad blog I ran during my time there.