About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: History & Psychology
Program: University of Nottingham
Location: Nottingham, England
Term: Spring 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Coming to UNC, I always knew I wanted to study abroad and immerse myself in another country’s culture, but I wasn’t always sure about where I wanted to go. I ended up deciding to study in Nottingham, England for a few reasons. The first reason is that studying abroad was already something that was very outside of my comfort zone. Of course I was excited to go, but I was also apprehensive of going to another country, thousands of miles away from everything and everybody I knew. So, I decided that going to an English-speaking country would be a good middle ground for me— someplace different than the US, but not so different that I’d be completely overwhelmed. The second reason I chose England is because of it’s history. I’m a history major so a love of history is a given, but I’ve always been particularly interested in Queen Elizabeth and colonial relations between the US and the UK. I’d also taken an incredible class called Medieval England the fall semester before I went, which got me excited and exposed me to a whole new period of British history.
What did you learn about yourself?
During my time abroad, I learned to embrace pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’ve alway’s been a little bit introverted and wouldn’t normally push myself to do things that were scary or new. But going abroad, I knew that I couldn’t just sit back and wait for things to happen— if I wanted to go somewhere, see or do something, or even make friends, I had to make it happen for myself. It was definitely hard and uncomfortable at times, but I did it. I pushed myself to introduce myself to strangers, and as a result, they became some of my closest friends. I tried things I wouldn’t normally try, like kayaking in the ocean in Sorrento, and taking a glassblowing class in Venice—and they became some of my most treasured memories. I became more comfortable advocating for myself, which not only enhanced my experience abroad but allowed me to grow into a better person as well.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my most favorite memories from my time in England was when my friends and I visited the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. I’m a history major, and the reason I chose to study in England in the first place was because of the country’s long and rich history; But I can honestly say I never in a million years expected to grab a pint in an 830 year old pub— one that Richard the Lionheart allegedly stopped in on his way to the crusades! It was awe-inspiring for me to think that I was standing in the same place as people who’d lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago, when knights and castles still existed. Even better than being there was that I was there with the friends I’d made, sitting around a table talking and laughing. I’m so grateful that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, because I made some unforgettable friends from places like Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, China, and Russia.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
My advice for future study abroad students is to try everything! If you want to see something, or go visit a certain country, do it! You will never have a better opportunity to travel the world like you can while you’re abroad, so it’s important to take full advantage of it. With that being said, it’s also important to be economical and mindful of how much you’re spending, especially if you’re in a country with a negative exchange rate. You also need to always be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant about keeping yourself safe. Most of the countries in Europe are very safe, but unfortunately, crime happens everywhere, so you always need to be cautious—never walk anywhere alone, especially at night, and always lock your luggage when traveling on trains or staying in hostels.
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat!!
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
My classes at Nottingham were a lot less demanding than they are at UNC. There’s no participation or attendance grades, weekly quizzes, or anything like that. For two of my classes, 50% of my grade was on a midterm paper and 50% was on the final. For my third class, 100% of the grade was based on the final. It sounds really scary, but it wasn’t as bad in practice. It was very manageable, as long as you keep up with the course readings.
How do you identify?