Student considers study abroad invaluabe experience

Aquinas Photo / Mary baurkot TRAVELLING ABROAD is an opportunity for all students at The University, allowing students the chance to not only study in other countries, but also to live in the country and to get a feeling for the culture.

AQUINAS PHOTO / MARY BOURKOT / TRAVELLING ABROAD is an opportunity for all students at The University, allowing students the chance to not only study in other countries, but also to live in the country and to get a feeling for the culture.

Published: November 6, 2015

Commentary by
MARY BAURKOT

Last semester, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Twickenham, a little town right outside of central London. I had only travelled out of the country once before. My high school ran a trip to Greece the summer right before my freshman year of college.

I went with a bunch of my friends and teachers I liked. The whole trip was planned for us and it was absolutely amazing. After Greece, I knew I wanted to study abroad in college.

I just knew that an opportunity to see the world might not ever present itself again.

I wrestled with whether I was actually going to go through with it for my first two years in college. Even though I obviously wanted to go abroad, I was unsure if I was really cut out to go.

My trip to Greece was with people I already knew and was supervised by responsible adults. I knew that if I went abroad, I would be going completely on my own and I would be expected to be the responsible adult.

Finally, I stopped by the International Programs and Services Office to talk to the head of Study Abroad. I ended up going during his time out, but I spoke to a room full of study abroad ambassadors who convinced me that I had to take the plunge.

I decided to spend a semester abroad in London for many reasons. London is rich with history and has incredible architecture.

I also knew that there would be no language barrier between British people and myself. Another selling point was that once in Europe, it is so easy to go from one country to another. Europeans travel from country to country like Americans travel from state to state. After preparing that much to go to London, I bid my family farewell and flew there some time in January.

My experience in London was a dream. I was fortunate enough to meet an incredible group of friends who made my experience that much better.

We were all on the same page on what we wanted to do while abroad: see as much as we could and have a good time doing it.

While in England, I got to see so many amazing places ranging from the many beautiful cites in central London, to the ancient Stonehenge and to Leavesden Studios, the place where they filmed the Harry Potter series.

But studying in England did not inhibit me from going to other countries as well. Excluding England, I went to five other countries while abroad: France, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Each of these countries were places I had always dreamed of going. Never did I actually think I would see them in reality.

It was truly a surreal experience looking out at the Cliffs of Moher, staring at the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day, going through the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, eating the best gelato in the world in Italy and walking the beaches under the hot Spanish sun in Barcelona.

And although there were some minor bumps in the road like getting robbed in Barcelona, taking the wrong trains in London and missing my family and friends at home, my time abroad is insurmountable to any other experience I have ever had.

I was truly blessed to have seen such beautiful places with such beautiful people.

So I encourage everyone to study abroad. You don’t have to go for a full semester like I did. The University offers several intercession courses abroad.

If you go and talk to the great people in the International Programs and Services Office, they will give you all the information you need and will help you figure out how to make a trip work.

You will come back having learned so much about the world and yourself. There is so much to see and so much to do in life, so don’t hold yourself back. Take a chance and go abroad. The world is waiting.

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