Jessica Alkire is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I decided to study abroad because I wanted to open my eyes to new cultures and experiences. College life can seem like a bubble at times- seeing all the same people, going to the same classes, and doing the same things every day. I wanted to step outside this repetition and experience something new abroad and gain a different perspective.
Let's be real...I chose to study abroad in London specifically because I absolutely love all things British, especially Harry Potter. On a more serious note, I also decided to London because of the United Kingdom's close proximity to other countries in Europe, allowing for greater opportunities to travel. London is also one of the most diverse cities in the world, so it is the perfect place to experience many different cultures. I also wanted to take part in an internship abroad.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the best cultural experiences I had in London was simply riding the tube every day to my internship. It was a great time to just sit on the train for an hour and observe all the different people and conversations around me. It may seem a bit creepy or intrusive, but just watching the people around me was not only entertaining but informative. I learned so much about the different people and cultures of London just by sitting on a train. Riding the bus around the city is also great for this, plus you get to take in all the sights of London while you people watch!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall, studying abroad in London was absolutely the time of my life. London is an incredibly multicultural, diverse city, and I experienced so many new things, places, people, and perspectives there. I really think I grew as a person through my time abroad, and I do not think I would have done so to that degree anywhere else. I learned so much about a country that seems similar but is actually very different from the United States. Most importantly, I made many amazing friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
I also took part in an internship abroad. I worked as a journalist intern at an online magazine for Paddington Arts, a non-profit organization. It was an incredibly rewarding experience not only to gain insight into the workplace but to learn more about British culture and interact with people from the UK on a daily basis.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
One of the main benefits of studying abroad is simply starting fresh in a new place, allowing for self-discovery and growth. I quickly learned to adapt to new places and situations and gained exposure to different cultures. Being in a different country also forces you to be almost entirely independent; you are responsible for your finances, meals, travel plans, everything. This gave me greater insight into adult life which will help me in the future, and I became more independent and self-sufficient.
I would also encourage anyone applying to London to consider taking part in an internship; not only will it set your resume apart from other candidates, but you will experience so much more culturally as well.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would definitely advise students who are interested in studying abroad to plan well, budget, and save money prior to studying abroad. It is extremely easy to over-spend if you do not budget or search for the best deals and bargains. Saving money and planning in advance will help so much in the long run. That being said, I would also encourage students to not let finances get in the way or discourage them from studying abroad. Financing my education abroad was difficult, but I managed by saving as much money as I could over the summer and budgeting while abroad. You can be frugal, but you should not let money deter you from experiencing everything studying abroad has to offer.