Monday, February 24, 2020

How I Chose My Study Abroad Experience

Today is #NationalStudyAbroadDay, so I wanted to share a little bit about my Study Abroad experience.

When I was touring colleges as a Junior in High School, I had no idea where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to study abroad in London, England. My mom eventually said something like, "Okay, that's fine, but what about the other seven semesters?"

Eventually, I did find a college to go to that I absolutely loved! But I still wanted to Study Abroad. I went to the info session at accepted student's day, during my Freshman year, and during my Sophomore year. Those meetings were where I learned an internship could be an option. The end of Sophomore year was when the fun started because that's when I had to start making choices about locations and programs.

The location was easy. I'd wanted to visit London since I was a Freshman in High School. The program took a second longer. I went to a meeting with the Study Abroad Director and expressed interest in partaking in an internship while abroad. I mentioned that Simon & Schuster had a location in London that I thought would be cool to work at.  The Director immediately handed me booklets and explained a few different programs.

One of the programs was the Arcadia London Internship Program. Arcadia University is in Pennsylvania, but it has a massive emphasis on studying abroad and requires going abroad from all of its students. Because of that, they have locations all over the world. I would live and study with Americans, but I was guaranteed an internship somewhere in the city.

The fact that I would be living and studying only with Americans was a pro and a con to the program.  For a con, it felt like there was a bit of a wall up that separated me from fully immersing in the British culture. On the other hand, I was still able to make amazing friends (that didn't live an ocean away). Also, growing up, I suffered from homesickness, so having everyone around me going through the same experience of being so far from home helped me feel more comfortable. The pros definitely outweighed the cons
*Disclaimer: I could have taken a course at a London University if I wanted to, but Arcadia offered everything I needed

As I said, by being accepted to the Arcadia London Internship Program, I was guaranteed an internship. The application asked me what my interests were, and I checked off a few things but also wrote in the comment box that I would love to be at Simon & Schuster UK specifically. In the fall of 2017, I received an email saying that there was an opening in the Marketing & Publicity department at Simon & Schuster UK. I agreed to a phone interview (which lasted about 10 minutes), and then I was offered the position.

And just like that, I was off. January 1, 2018, I boarded a plane for London and wouldn't be home again until the end of April. It was the longest I had ever been away from home. I was excited and nervous.

My abroad experience was amazing. Living in London was so cool. I went to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour of Harry Potter twice, and London was the first place I ever went into a Pret, which is one of my favorite breakfast/lunch places. I loved my internship, even though it mostly involved me in the mailroom sending out books to bloggers. Eventually, I was making press releases and show cards, but it was a lot of mailings. I met great people and I am still close to a few of them. I got to go on many adventures. My roommate and I would find a new bakery every Tuesday after class, Arcadia offered excursions that allowed me to spend the day at Windsor Castle and a long weekend in Berlin, Germany, and friends and I made trips to Edinburgh, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; and Nice, France. My brother came over in February and we went to Brussels, Belgium and a few other family members visited at the end of my trip to move me home and we spent a day in Paris, France.
My mom has since commented a few times that my study abroad experience was when she noticed I grew up. It forced me to come out of my shell and to try new things. I gained a ton of confidence in myself by the end of my 3+ months away from home, and I think the fact that my family and friends weren't two hours away was a huge part of that. My introverted self couldn't hide behind them anymore.

Studying abroad was something that I always knew I wanted to do, and it was even better than I could have imagined. If you've ever considered studying abroad, I HIGHLY recommend you look into it. There are only so many years you're eligible to do something like that, and it would really stink to have that as something you wished you did back in college.

What questions do you have about studying abroad?

I blogged the entire time I was abroad. To see all of those posts click HERE


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