About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Public Policy
Program: King's College London - Summer School
Location: London, England
Term: Summer 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to grow as a person and become more independent. When I came to college, I experienced a lot of growth in becoming my own person and learning how to live without my parents. Before my study abroad experience, I had never left the country and had lived in North Carolina for my entire life. Therefore, I still had room to grow and a lot more to learn about myself. I also chose to study abroad because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to live in another country for six weeks. I wanted to live in another country because I thought it would introduce me to new perspectives, new experiences, and to see parts of the world that I normally would not be able to see. UNC offers so many amazing opportunities and experiences through their study abroad programs that I had a hard time choosing one. I knew I wanted to study abroad in Europe because I have always had a desire to travel in Europe, so that narrowed my options. I then chose to apply to study in London because I thought it would be a great introductory city for traveling abroad. I also knew so many people who had studied abroad in London and had highly recommended the city to me. I finally decided that I wanted to do a program that gave me the best options for potential credit in my major. I then chose the King’s College London Summer School program because it provided the best educational and personal experiences at the most affordable cost for me.
What did you learn about yourself?
My experience abroad taught me about how much I have grown as person since I graduated high school. When I first came to college, I felt out of my comfort zone because I did not know many people at Carolina. For the first time, I had to experience being in a new place without being able to rely on anyone except for myself. I was shy and I did not make a big effort to try to meet the people on my hall or in my classes. I worried that throughout my whole life I depended on other people to make friends for me and that I did not know how to make friends on my own. The first semester at UNC was difficult, but I eventually put in the effort to show others who I was as a person and got to know them as well. I found my place on campus and a great group of friends who support me in my endeavors. When I applied to study abroad, I did not know anyone else applying for my same program. Once again, I was in the same situation of being in a new place without knowing anyone. I feared that I was going to be alone and that I was going to miss out on so many experiences. Fortunately, this did not happen. I made the effort to get to know people and let them know me right off the bat and it was easy to make friends. This experience made me realize that I am not the shy person I was when I first came to school. I have become comfortable with who I am and am way more outgoing because of it.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program happened on my third day of class in London. One of the classes I took while abroad was a class called “Museum of London: Curating the City.” It was about curating museum exhibits on twentieth century culture and the social history of London. It involved visiting different museums and meeting with their head curators. On the third day, we met at our classroom and walked over to the British Museum together. The walk from campus to the museum was about thirty minutes, which allowed us to talk and get to know each other. On my walk over, I spent the entire time getting to know three different women from my class. One woman was from Singapore, one was from India, and one was from Italy. We talked about our different countries, our school systems, and our future aspirations. This conversation was one of my favorite memories because I had never had the opportunity before to have a conversation where everyone involved was from a different country. It made me realize how different the world can be but also how similar it is. The four of us had completely different life experiences but we were all able to have a long conversation and relate to one another. When we arrived at the British Museum, I was surrounded by millions of historical objects from all over the world that I had grown up learning about in school. I got a little emotional at the museum because I had never had such a worldly experience between the conversation I had walking to the museum and being in the museum itself. I immediately became so incredibly grateful for my choice to study abroad in London and was extremely excited for the next six weeks.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I would first tell future study abroad students to take advantage of every single day that they are abroad. It may seem like you are there for a long time, but it goes by quickly and you do not want to have any regrets at the end of the program. I packed so much into my time in London because I did something every single day, whether that was getting dinner with people at a new restaurant, attending an Arsenal soccer game, or hanging out with friends at Hyde Park. Going to new place and trying new things is a major part of studying abroad and if one does not take advantage of the opportunities a new city offers, then he or she will miss out on their study abroad experience. I would also recommend students to talk and get to know as many people as they can. I learned so much about the world and myself from having casual conversations with my classmates, Uber drivers, and the people standing behind me in line. Finally, I would recommend people to document their entire experience in some way. While I was abroad, I took many photos of what I ate, where I went, and what I wore. Then I went back and used the photos to help me journal. I am very thankful that I did that because I can now always remember what I did and where I went while I was abroad.
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 abroad consisted of a few people from the United States, but also people from Australia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Italy, Denmark, and many other countries as well. This allowed for really good class discussion because so many different viewpoints were present. This differs from classes at UNC because the majority of campus is from the United States, more specifically North Carolina. Therefore, the perspectives that are present in the classroom are not as diverse because they are largely from the viewpoint of the United States. I was able to learn a lot more from class discussion because so many viewpoints were different from my own. The classes abroad also had a lot less work than classes at UNC. I did not have nightly homework or weekly class assignments. I had to give a presentation and write a 2,500-word essay for one class and write a 3,000-word essay for my second class and that was it. This allowed me to actually enjoy my time in London and be able to experience all that the city had to offer.