Michaela is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I decided to attend CSB/SJU as a freshman, I was intrigued by the idea of studying abroad. CSB/SJU offers so many different study abroad programs to choose from and I knew that I had to take advantage of that! I chose to study/intern abroad in London because of the many things the program offered – international internship, completing common curriculum classes, diverse culture, ability to travel around Europe, big city, music/theatre/shopping/history, etc. I have no regrets with choosing the London program as it was most definitely the best experience of my life!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Living in London gave me an insight into the many different cultures the city represents. There are 32 boroughs (equivalent to a neighborhood region) in London. These boroughs are all very different, some poorer and some more posh (English term for “chic” or “rich”). It was interesting to observe the different ethnicities in each borough as well. Towards the end of the semester, our entire CSB/SJU group (along with our CSB/SJU faculty advisor and her husband) went to Southall for an evening filled with Indian food and dance. Comparing Southall to Kensington (where our group stayed) was like night and day. While in Southhall, it definitely felt like I was in another country when really I was still in London. I loved being able to experience new foods and culture in a city filled with a variety of ethnicities!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience in London was truly incredible. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that I had to travel around Europe and create memories that will last a lifetime! I was fully immersed into the culture and I felt like a true Londoner when I worked at my internship three days a week (commuting on the tube every day, eating lunch with co-workers, etc.). I feel like I have a more global outlook of the world and life in general because of the way studying abroad makes you think about your surroundings. Choosing to study abroad was honestly the best decision I have ever made!
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?
Some benefits of studying abroad include: gaining more confidence and independence, making lifelong friends (CSB/SJU students or even locals), helps improve your time management skills, get a more global perspective on certain issues, learn how to make travel plans without the help of your parents. Personally, I feel like I became more independent. Once I got used to the city and felt confident navigating around London on the tube or bus, I was able to explore so many cool places. I now feel more comfortable flying on planes and navigating around new places (which I hope to do more of in the future!). Academically, I had the opportunity to take classes that did not relate to my major which was a nice change of pace. I learned about Ethical Leadership, Sherlock Holmes, and British Life & Culture just to name a few. Professionally, I believe that the international internship gave me great work experience in the business world. It was interesting to observe the differences in working styles in the United Kingdom versus the United States. Another benefit that came from the internship was that I was able create new connections with my co-workers in London.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Take advantage of the opportunity CSB/SJU is offering you. Living, studying, and maybe even interning in another country is an experience that you might not have the chance to do in your lifetime ever again. Research the various programs and find the one that you think fits best. Don’t hesitate. Just do it! You might not feel comfortable being away for so long or you might miss your family (which does happen!). You just have to step out of your comfort zone and I guarantee you will come back home feeling more confident and independent than before. Obviously money could be an issue, but just go because you might not ever get this moment back! Travel, try new foods, visit all the cool sites, make memories! I promise you won’t regret it!