Meghan is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Major: Global Business Leadership
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Studying abroad in London offers wonderful opportunities to be in Europe and immerse yourself in a diverse culture as well as advance your professional skills with an international internship. I want to pursue business on a global scale and I thought London was a great chance to kick off that aspiration.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The most impactful cultural experience I had abroad was during my internship. I worked for Bags of Love; they are an international company that specializes in personalized photo printing. Think of the Christmas blanket you order for your mom with all your baby pictures on it- that's their specialty! I worked to change their keywords for 450 products on their U.S. website. On some of their descriptions I noticed it said "hand wash safe". I thought this was strange so I asked my boss and she said "yes we want them to hand wash". I explained that you have to say "hand wash only" or "dishwasher safe" because in the U.S. we put everything in the dishwasher. She replied, "can I say hand wash recommended?". I told her yes but that if something happened to a mug or plate a customer could call in and complain because you only recommended it, not required. They went on to change every saying across the website to "hand wash only". I learned two things from this. The first, they might speak English in London but the cultural norms are different. The second, even as an intern they valued my opinion and it was great to see it put into action.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad is a wonderful experience that you will look back on and say, wow I'm so glad I did that! For me, the format of London's program was great. The first 7 weeks are classes, in which I took British Life and Culture, Sherlock's London then & now and British Theater. My favorite class was British theater because we went to 6 plays as a class and discussed them in the following class. We went to shows in the west end and smaller productions I enjoyed but may not have picked for myself. The fascinating part for me was meeting up and hearing other people's opinions that I either shared or thought, were we watching the same show? It was refreshing to be able to discuss material and share opinions in a respectful manner. After spring break, the second set of 7 weeks was a couple classes and your internship. In this time people travelled less and got to know London more.
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?
Study abroad contributed to my personal and professional development. As a result of my internship abroad I had some examples I could use in my summer internship interviews. I was caught off guard during my interview because they said, "wow that's a great example!" I had never had that happen before. Ultimately, the internship contributed to my success in getting an internship for the summer. Personally, I learned a lot about how intrigued I am by other cultures, food and life styles. I've gained a deeper appreciation for the "difference" in the world. I've also learned a lot about myself in what I enjoy, my strengths, weaknesses and goals for the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I could go on for hours about things to do in London!! But, here are my 5 tips:
1. Travel!!! You have the time and if you are able to hop on a plane and go see another country for the weekend, go! Go to other countries but also go to smaller cities outside London, such as Bath, Wales (UK) Canterbury, Dover, etc.
2. When you go and travel push yourself to do things that are traditional or of that culture. If you don't know what to order on the menu, ask what their favorite is or what's typical/traditional, then order it! Same goes for activities. Push your comfort zone.
3. Journal, I wrote every day in a book about what I did or how I was feeling and it's really fun to look back on even a couple weeks into your program. It's hard to keep up with but if you do it you will realize what you've accomplished along the way.
4. There's a delicate balance between living abroad and wanting to see everything while you are there. It's ok to enjoy time on the couch but when Wednesday afternoon rolls around and you don't have any plans challenge yourself to go to a museum or walk through hyde park.
5. Every person has different goals for being abroad, make sure you know yours and remind yourself that this a time for personal and professional development!