Laura Brandes

Laura is an Ambassador who studied abroad in London
Major: English and GBUS


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I decided to study abroad because I had heard from previous students who went abroad that it was one of the best experiences of their life. I knew that I really wanted to go abroad so that I could experience another country for a longer period of time, and I ended up choosing the London program for many reasons. The first major reason I chose London was because of the internship program. I knew that gaining work experience abroad was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I had to take it. As a GBUS major, we are required to complete an internship in order to graduate, so I thought it would be awesome to get that done in a foreign country. I also chose the London program because of its urban setting. I absolutely love city life, so I thought London would be the perfect place to live for a semester.

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

For one of our classes, our group went to the Neasden Temple, which is one of the largest Hindu temples outside of India, located in North London. I really did not know very much about Hinduism going into it, but we got to tour the Temple and learn all about the Hindu religion. It was a very eye-opening experience for me, and I thought it was very valuable, considering that there is a very large Indian population in London. It just added to the great amount of cultural diversity that the city has to offer.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was incredibly rewarding in so many ways. I was able to complete a global marketing class which really sparked my interest in doing business around the world. I was also able to intern in the fundraising office of the largest nonprofit for homelessness in London. My internship allowed me to work on many projects for the company I was working for, including writing articles and working fundraising events for the organization. I was able to meet some incredible people through my internship, and thoroughly enjoyed every part of it. My experience abroad overall could not have been better.

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 for spending a semester abroad. I was very fortunate to make a lot of new friends on the trip who I may not have ever met had I not studied abroad. Academically, I felt challenged by the different ways that the British teach. Professionally, studying abroad helped me to gain experience through my internship and make connections for the future. Overall, I just became so much more open and am now much more confident in my daily life. I think that studying abroad helped me learn so much about the world around me, and at the same time, I learned so much about myself and what I want for my future.

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

First of all, I would say if a student is able to go abroad, they should definitely do it. It may be scary, but it really breaks you out of your comfort zone and you will be so glad that you did it! Once you decide to go, do your research on what the best program will be for you. Take into account everything from academics to location to extras the program might have to offer. Once you are abroad, keep an open mind and explore as much as you can. You don't want to leave knowing that you didn't experience everything that you wanted to or could have.

Do you have questions about studying abroad in London? Email Laura at