Julia is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Both of my sisters studied abroad, and after visiting them in London and Rome, I knew I wanted an experience abroad to. I wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone and try new things, which studying abroad would allow me to do. I chose London based off of my previous visit there (I fell in love immediately with the neighborhood feel of London), the living style of London (flats in neighborhoods I'd never be able to afford), and I wanted to live in a big city.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
My internship took place in zone 3 of London. All semester I grew used to the posh neighborhood we lived in, but this internship pushed me to a side of town I had not seen before. As I walked around the neighborhood on my first day I realized the high street was not filled with designer stores like Kensington, but barber shops and small family owned restaurants. I was taken aback because Acton seemed like such a juxtaposition to the London I had grown used to. No million dollar flats, no Zaras in sight, and no designer cars lining the street, but these people of Acton were just as much Londoners as those living in Chelsea. After a few days there I learned so much about the many facets of London and truly saw how many different cultures coexist in London. London is a melting pot, and the people are able to so peacefully live together, no matter your cultural background.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad in London was the greatest choice of my life and the four months seriously flew by. I was lucky enough to visit 11 countries in total, getting to know some amazing people through travel. I was really nervous before I left, but I grew so close to the 36 other amazing people I studied abroad with and they made London feel like home. I spent most days exploring my favorite city, because London is so large and you will never get bored there. Spring 2017 was the greatest semester of my life, and I hope next year's students have as amazing as a time as I did.
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?
Living in London in a flat with 15 other people, meant that I was never bored and never lacked people to hang out or explore with. I did not have any close friends on the trip prior to leaving, but I was able to mature greatly, while becoming really close with many of the people on my trip. Living in flats helped me grow into more of an independent person. The classes I took abroad were like no classes I had taken at CSBSJU, but I learned to really enjoy them (especially theatre class with Mark!). Every day when I was walking down the streets of London I smiled and focused on how truly lucky I was to have this study abroad experience.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Studying abroad isn't always easy, there are going to be tough days. But those tough days are all worth it because you get the experience of a lifetime to study abroad. The four months seriously fly by, and I remember feeling a lot of pressure to always be doing something because I didn't want to waste any time. Make sure to give your body and mind rest while abroad, because you do deserve it and traveling is tiring. Finding a balance of exploring and rest is very important. Also, coming from someone who did not know many people going into the trip, if you do know a lot of people, make sure you reach out and are inclusive to those who are not in the same position. Our group had a Groupme with all 37 students and it made making plans and having fun much easier.