Study abroad has a knack for taking what you think you know and changing your perception.
This past summer, I attended the London School of Economics to take the course Bargaining and Negotiation: Interests, Information, Strategy, and Power. After our first week of class, my new friends and I took a trip to Paris. While I had gone into my course with no prior knowledge of the subject, I was surprised to learn that first week alone had given me the skills to negotiate my way through Paris, complete with confidently bartering with street vendors like never before. The following two weeks in the course left me feeling ready to negotiate, when appropriate, every aspect of my life, and so much more!
While I felt completely enriched in the classroom, the schedule and workload allowed for free time to enjoy a new city. Three weeks seems like a short amount of time, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed. While days were spent studying in the heart of London, nights were spent exploring outside the campus walls. As soon as the clock struck 5 o’clock, I was soaking up as much of London as I could: from the Tower of London to Tate Modern, to Buckingham Palace to Borough Market, and from Harrods to Hyde Park, I made sure to see and learn from it all. It was just long enough to get a fulfilling academic experience while still allowing for other meaningful experiences.
But it was the people who really shaped my time abroad. Aside from having professors that are leaders in their field, my classmates were some of the brightest people I have ever met. And the best part is, they came from all walks of life. In my small breakout group of twenty people, we had business owners, law students, and college students just to name a few. There were teenagers, parents, and everyone in between, which is not typical in every US college classroom. We had representation from a vast majority of countries, and six continents, too! I truly hope that I am exposed to this type of diversity in such a small learning community again. The material came to life in such a different way when hearing about it through the eyes of so many different people’s cultures and backgrounds.
I cannot think of a better place to spend three weeks of my summer. The program encouraged exploration both inside and outside the classroom; the professors were world-renowned, the campus was charming, and the opportunities were immense.
If given the chance, I strongly recommend spending at least one summer abroad. Try to choose a place that intrigues you and a class that you cannot necessarily take at your home college or university. I would also take into consideration the ease of traveling to other countries on weekends. I loved taking a short course because it allowed time to explore new places with new people.
Wherever you end up, do your research ahead of time! That way, you can make the most of your time there and see everything you want to see. And, if you are lucky enough to end up in London, go to Duck and Waffles! It is an institution and you will definitely not regret it.