"I would recommend you take the plunge and do it! Though I would also recommend that you care about the classes you take; that was where I learned the most in my study abroad. So many people in my program would go country to country for food or the "party scene." I think it's important to actually enjoy where you are, and learn about where you are. Go to a museum, not a club! London has such a rich history. Explore!"
I chose to be apart of Global Edge because I am half British. My father is originally from England, and through blood I was able to become a UK citizen in February of 2018. As someone who has always possessed a strong British identity, yet had never lived in the UK, I wanted to study overseas and further understand where I came from. I had been to the UK five times before my semester last fall, but it was amazing to spend more than two weeks in the other country I call home.
This fall I had the amazing opportunity to be in London for the 100th anniversary of the First World I. I have always been someone who feels emotionally connected to the World Wars because of the effect they left on my family. I couldn't get into the proper ceremony on White Hall; however, I was able to stand outside of it, near Trafalgar square. The moment of silence that sounded at 11am that morning was one of the most chilling moments of my life, as the busy city of London came to a pause. What was so special about this event, to me, was the interpretation of war in the UK. In the US, memorial days and war are looked upon more with glory and honor, in comparison to the UK where we look at these events as a time of tragedy and sorrow. I identify with that part of my UK side much more.
The biggest challenge was my rooming situation. In the semester I had a roommate that I really struggled to gel with. After about two months into my study abroad, I came to a breaking point. Once I was ready to admit that this was causing me stress, I went to ACCENT. They were extremely accommodating and understanding, they helped me try to address my problems with my roommate. In turn I was able to live in my housing for the next two months with fewer issues, and less stress in general.
My typical day included me commuting from my accommodation to the ACCENT Centre where my classes were held. Depending on my class I would either sit in lecture, go to a museum, or on an excursion to a historic region of the city. Lunch would often be a "Meal Deal" from Sainsbury's or a sandwich from Pret (my Global Edge friends would agree). After classes I would go home, make pasta and eat biscuits and tea, while watching my favorite British shows from "QI" to "The Chase" with my Global Edge BFF's Maddy, Kathy, and Kobe. Usually I would finish up my day with some course reading and then go to bed.
The four courses I took were THEATER 20U, HISTART 15A, POL SCI 2, and COLWRIT R4B. Overall I found them quite similar to courses at Berkeley, but with more excursions! The main difference is that the UK system is much more focused on reading on your own time, in comparison to personal homework assignments, so there is a lot less accountability. I actually preferred this, as I try to stay on task as a student, but it may be difficult to some.
Despite the new countries and new locations, the most memorable parts of my study abroad were those spent with my friends and family. Like the time Kathy and I surprised Maddy with a "cake" made out of crepes, the time I played "diggers" with my two year old nephew Sam for two hours, or the time that my friends and I went to Amsterdam, searching for food locations in our budget. I guess it's the little things; the Snapchats saved on my camera roll or the funny pictures. Those are the moments I'll treasure.
I think that my study abroad really solidified my identity. I'm not just an American, I'm British. I think living in my second country really made the differences apparent: we have different food, different political opinions, different humour, etc. Even though my culture is less colorful than others (I acknowledge it's quite pasty), it's apart of me that I should be proud of. Realizing that was one of the most valuable experiences in my journey.
I would recommend you take the plunge and do it! Though I would also recommend that you care about the classes you take; that was where I learned the most in my study abroad. So many people in my program would go country to country for food or the "party scene." I think it's important to actually enjoy where you are, and learn about where you are. Go to a museum, not a club! London has such a rich history. Explore!