Lauren Kelleher is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London.
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Throughout my life, I have always been drawn toward the city of London. When the time came to choose a study abroad location, I knew that it would be my first choice. It had everything I wanted in a city. It had history to it, which is one of my interests, it had great relevance to my major (English) with its connections to many great authors and stories, and it is simply beautiful and charming, combining big city and quaint town into one.
In addition, I was also attracted to the fact that I would be living in a flat, in the heart of the city, with some of my fellow study abroaders.
And finally (to be honest) I am a big Harry Potter fan and have always wanted to visit the place where it is set!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the first days we were in London, we had our first British pub experience. It also happened to be the day of a big football match. The pub, a local one down the street from our flat, was completely full of people all enjoying a pint and the match with their friends and family and experiencing the atmosphere there was amazing. It was the first time I really felt like I experienced, and very much enjoyed, the "real" London.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My experience in London was truly an amazing one that changed my life and actually living in and immersing myself in the city was incredible. The area we stayed in, South Kensington was a prime location (not to mention beautiful!), giving us the advantage of being only a short tube ride away from almost everything. The people I was able to live and study and travel with were some of the best Bennies and Johnnies I've ever met and we became incredibly close. I can honestly not say enough good things about them and know that I've gained 24 new lifelong friends. The unique events I was able to attend were also fantastic. The group and I got the chance to go to West End plays, visit some of the world's most recognizable landmarks, and even attend the BAFTA awards red carpet (The UK's version of the Oscars!). Finally, the proximity London had to other countries also gave us the chance to travel around Europe throughout our time there. It was sincerely amazing to be able to go, even for just a weekend, to places like Italy, Scotland, Germany, or France. Even with all that said, there's so much more to say about the overall trip, I could go on forever!
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 countless benefits of spending a semester abroad. You not only get to live in somewhere completely new for four months, but you get to study your major in that place as well, giving new insight to the material and possibly changing your ideas on the subject. Personally, because I was in a country that has a great literary history, I was able to see and experience things that will help me better teach High School English (my chosen career path) in the future. You also get the chance to meet and befriend people you may not normally interact with in normal circumstances, both within your actual program and in the country you choose. All of these things, and many others, were true for me, and helped me with my personal, academic, and professional development.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Basically, do anything and everything you can! Take advantage of the opportunities that arise because before you know it, you're back home in the US. Some of your group is going to see a new exhibit at an art gallery? Tag along! Your roommates are going to play soccer in the park (a very fun pass time of ours in London!), go with! I truly believe the more diverse you make your activities when abroad, the more you'll experience, and the more you'll enjoy you're trip.
I would also recommend getting to know the people in your group as much as possible! While it's fun to go out an explore on your own sometimes, your best memories will be the times you spend traveling and going out to sightsee with the members or your program.
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