A breakdown between life and academics while studying abroad

Fall semester of my junior year of college I spent studying abroad in England. I lived on the St. Mary’s University campus located in a town a 45 minute train ride away from the outside of Central London called Twickenham. I decided to choose London as my home because I didn’t want to have a language barrier between myself and the locals. I also had the chance to travel to Scotland, Ireland, Amsterdam, Stonehenge, Brussels and Bath. Each trip was quite the experience that left me constantly in awe that what I was experiencing was reality.

Not only did I make a massive amount of friends that were from England, I also met girls who became my core group of friends that were also from America studying abroad for the semester too. These friendships ended up being one of the best things I got out of being abroad. While I was in England I made a conscious effort to stay out of my room as much as possible and get myself involved with the English students. I was even a member of St. Mary’s University’s lacrosse team. Being involved in a sports team filled with the English kids allowed me to create strong bonds from spending time together on long bus rides to games, practice and team events held at bars and clubs.

Having the opportunity to study abroad I was able to open my eyes to literally a whole new world. While studying at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham London, I took courses in history, media and psychology. The classes I took abroad helped shape me into a more well-rounded person especially because of the style of teaching I had to adapt to. Not only did the class content and style help me have different views but so did the opportunity to interact with the local students.

In my history class I studied mainly about the Atlantic world. I enjoyed this class because I felt that I was most interested in the content, and I got along with the professor. The professor I had was originally from Ireland but spent a lot of time in England. This made her accent so unique and pleasantly intriguing to pay attention to. Being enrolled in this particular class allowed me to have the opportunity to go on a class field trip, which took place in central London. I went to The Museum of London – London, Sugar & Slavery in Canary Wharf.

The media class I took was based on studying the media and how the audience reacts to specific advertisements. This class was very enjoyable for me because I ended up making the most friends in this class. I was also able to go on multiple field trips that helped open my eyes to the world of British film. My favorite field trip out of the three from this class was to the British Film Institute in Central London. I was able to learn about the institute itself, their film festivals, and even watch a two hour silent film, which ended up being amazing!

The most difficult class of all for me was the introduction to psychology course I was enrolled in. This course provoked my thoughts to new levels and although I found myself struggling, I was able to overcome and do what was needed in order to pass. Being able to pass this difficult course brought me a new found confidence I never even knew I was missing.

My overall experience through academics while abroad made my trip even better and more valuable than if I were to have just traveled to London as a vacation or trip. Being an active member in the classroom allowed me to see and learn things that I would have never experienced in the American styled classroom. I was also exposed to places in London that were out of my interest which ended up all being great and unforgettable. Having the opportunity to be a student at another University for a semester was the best decision I made during my college career. Studying abroad is a whole list of experiences that people will miss out on if they don’t take the leap of faith to go out of their comfort zone.

Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made.


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