Maxwell is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
For me, choosing London as a study abroad location was simple. First off, I wanted to travel to a country where the primary language was English as I did not have a background in a foreign language. Secondly I was seeking a program which was situated in a large city located close to other cities. Lastly, to make study abroad truly worthwhile, the classes offered had to correlate with my four year plan. London satisfied all those conditions and was the clear choice for study abroad.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the many experiences I had while abroad has truly changed the way I think and act, was one which I experienced many times. During my stay in London, I took advantage of the London Underground Tube pass which was provided for us. This meant I was constantly riding the "tube", an undeniable facet of London's rich history and culture. Quite often my tube rides would be poorly timed on my part and had me attempting to return to our flat at the classic rush hour time of around 5 o'clock. During this rush hour time, the underground stations would be absolutely swamped with a mass of humanity all trying to board the carriages at once. Inevitably people who made it on the train would be standing face to face with little personal room, many would also be left standing at the platform. During all my times witnessing and being a part of this controlled chaos, I never once saw anyone push, shove, get angry, or even become upset with another person. There was no "rush" to compete with other people to board the tube. This shocked me at first as back in the States, it always feels like people are fighting against each other for position in situations such as a rush hour would create. In London, I saw and was utterly astounded how everyone seemingly worked together for the common good of efficiency and courtesy. I realized from this utterly foreign behavior that by working together, albeit in an informal sense, everyone benefited, rather than if everyone was fighting for themselves as is so often the case in America.
Now whenever I am confronted with a case that has me stuck waiting, I think back to all those times when the virtue of patience and cooperation helped fellow Londoners perpetuate a feeling of organized , calm, chaos (as counterproductive as that may seem). I believe the experience I gained in that form of British Culture, the "Keep Calm and Carry On" mentality if you will, can be applied in all aspects of my personal life, school, and especially my career. All in all, I not only miss riding the Tube, but rather the whole experience of each unique ride.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Lets be honest, I had an absolutely wonderful study abroad experience! While traveling to another country with a group of CSB/SJU students whom I didn't know was at first a bit unnerving, as time passed, I came to love everything about it. The Bennies and Johnnies who were there with me became like one big family, with our shared experiences we will be forever united in our time in London. It still is a great feeling to see a fellow "Londoner" and shout out "LONDON!" followed some other form of greeting. The location of London in relation to other European countries made it easy to travel, whether it was for spring break, after the program was over, or even on long weekends! Classes were challenging yet enjoyable, and had the added benefit of satisfying many graduation requirements. I mean, where else would you be able to take a fine arts class in which you traveled almost ever week to a different theater in London to see world renowned performances (London Theater). Continuing with that thought, no other theology class (to my knowledge) has a three day excursion to Istanbul, complete with mosque tours and a visit to Asia (Islam and the West). I could go on and on about my truly wonderful experiences abroad, but I know I need to stop myself somewhere! Overall, studying abroad has been the best experience of my college career.
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?
Like I stated previously, I learned many things abroad. The cultural experiences were unlike anything that can be had within the confines of Collegeville and St. Joe. Although many people may think British culture is identical to American culture, it most certainly is not. By living and immersing myself in that particular British culture for four months, I believe that I have developed considerably in all aspects of my life! By dealing with situations that would not arise Stateside, I have become better prepared to meet the challenges of an always changing business world. Given our classes were taught primarily by Londoners, I also experienced the different way of teaching which is present in different countries and cultures. This has helped me both become a better, more flexible student, as well as introducing me to being far more open to new learning environments. One more aspect of studying abroad that will prove to be considerably in my benefit, came with traveling to various countries throughout Europe. As each country had its own customs and even a different language, I had to train myself to become highly adaptable when moving from one country to the next, at times in a matter of days!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Take the opportunity! You'll never get to experience anything like studying abroad through St.Ben's/St.John's again, so get on that application ASAP. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, both when applying to a certain program and when you are abroad, all I can say is the reward is far greater than any risk! Honestly, you'll love every second of the experience and the memories it creates.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in London? Email Maxwell at email@example.com