Katherine is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I came to CSB/SJU under the impression that virtually everyone did so I thought I would too. On the second day of my first year here my academic adviser helped me fill out my four-year plan and slotted London into Fall 2012; from then on, without any debate, I knew London was where I wanted to go. While all the other programs sounded cool, my interest in the arts really solidified my choice. Living in a city for four months where hundreds of theatrical opportunities were at my fingertips, including an internship in a theater, made London seem like the perfect place for me!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While in London I had the opportunity to see the Queen, her husband, three of her kids, as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton in person. It was at a formal event called Remembrance Sunday where members of the Royal Family along with political personnel and representatives from the Commonwealth Countries lay wreaths at the Cenotaph, a memorial statue for servicemen who lost their lives in WW1 and WW2. The ceremony itself also honors veterans and current military personnel. Myself and five other Bennies went specifically because we had been told we would see the royal family there, which was one of our goals for the semester; however, as thousands of people packed the streets behind us it donned on me just how important this event was to the British people. This was not a red-carpet event featuring the royals, it was a genuine ceremony paying respect to those who sacrifice their lives for the country. The two moments throughout the ceremony that hit me the most was the minute of silence that occurred when Big Ben struck 11:00am. Thousands of people lined the street yet for that whole minute not a single phone went off, no whispering could be heard, and no cameras clicked; it was absolutely amazing. The second thing that happened that I will never forget was when I was looking right at the Queen and the thousands of British people started singing "God Save the Queen". It was an awe-inspiring moment. The ceremony itself was a great reminder that although I am not British, there are people in every corner of the world fighting for their the well-being of our world, so we must remember to acknowledge them too.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience in London was amazing. Although there were some days where I just wanted some Taco Bell or didn't feel like walking a mile and trudging up 96 stairs with five bags of groceries to get to my flat, looking back now those unpleasant moments seem obsolete. London is a place where you can do absolutely anything, experience anything, and enjoy anything if you're willing to put yourself out there and live in the moment, and that's what I tried to do. My experience consisted of a lot of random adventures to unknown areas around the city, I balanced the hub-bub of the swirling city life with that of walks through Kensington Gardern right across from our flat, and I really valued the time and experiences I had with the other Bennies and Johnnies around me. There is no way to truly capture a study abroad experience in words but amazing, once in a lifetime, phenomenal, exciting, humorous, and enjoyable are a great place to start.
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?
There are SO many benefits of spending a semester abroad:
1. You get a break from Saint Joe/Collegeville and get to see another part of the world you otherwise might not travel to.
2. You learn real fast what it's like to be a responsible and independent adult; one who makes travel plans, has a budget, buys the groceries, etc.
3. You get to meet other Bennies and Johnnies and bond with them in a way that no one else, other than those in your group, will ever understand.
My personal study abroad experience has really shaped my development into a real adult. I've developed a much greater sense of independence, I've learned that I love big cities and am capable of living in one, I've learned my boundaries and when I can exceed them and when I need to get back to my comfort zone, and so much more. My internship in London, which was in a theater, also helped me realize that working in London is very much a possibility for me down the road.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
For those considering to study abroad I would definitely say to go for it. If you can find a program that feels right to you then do it! For everyone who is planning to study abroad I would say live in the moment, put the camera down every now and then and really look at what's around you, take advantage of opportunities you'd never get to do anywhere else, take risks and get outside your comfort zone, don't worry about the money aspect too much because you're going to have to spend some regardless, go in with a positive attitude and an open mind, and have fun!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in London? Email Katherine at firstname.lastname@example.org