Kelsey Ristow

Kelsey 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 London because I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and experience life in a big city. London was appealing because while it is a modern, cutting edge city, there is also a complex and rich history that is still clearly alive today. Also, there is an abundance of things to see and do that I knew I would never get bored - you can do something new every single day and still barely scratch the surface!

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

London is a melting pot of different cultures and one thing that sticks out for me is the time my roommates and I went to Brick Lane, a street on the East Side of London that is known for its Indian and Bangladeshi influences. We had lunch in one of the restaurants and ended up talking with the owner about his journey to the city. He and his four-year-old daughter moved from Bangladesh to make a better life for themselves and were very grateful for the opportunity. It was eye-opening to listen to his life experiences. 

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My experience in London absolutely changed my life. Prior to studying abroad I had not done any significant traveling - in fact, the plane ride to London was my first flight ever! I discovered my love for discovering new places, learning about different cultures, and trying new things. I feel more connected to the world around me and I have a better understanding and appreciation for cultural differences. The trip was truly the most incredible four months of my life and I am so happy I decided to go for it!

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?

I grew tremendously during my time abroad. I became much more independent and adventuresome. I also became more patient and developed problem solving skills during the more challenging moments of the trip. Academically, I became generally more interested in what is going on in the world around me. I try to stay up to date with what is happening in London so I can stay connected to the city I love. Professionally, I feel that studying abroad will positively contribute to building a strong resume. International experience shows employers that you are flexible, you have the ability to connect with people with different cultural backgrounds, and have a better understanding of the global community.

What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

If you are questioning whether you should study abroad or not, I would definitely, 100% say DO IT! You will not regret it. I was on the fence about it for the longest time and I am so glad I decided to go! Then when you finally make the decision to go abroad, be sure to: 1. Keep a journal or blog while you are there. I journaled every day and now I have so many great memories to look back on! 2. Budget! Think about your priorities - spend your money on things you can't do at home! 3. Have an open mind. You will get the most out of your experience if you have a "go-getter" attitude!

Do you have questions about studying abroad in London, or want to access my blog? Email Kelsey at