This is an exciting and monumental time for Sarawhitmanythoughts. This our first time having guest bloggers!
Over the next few months, we will be hearing from some lovely ladies who ventured off to a new land and want to share their experiences. Without further adieu, here are our featured study abroad students.
Where are you studying?
Alexa: Through Lasell I am currently studying abroad at the University of the Arts London, specifically the London College of Fashion. Here I am taking part in the Fashion Business semester program.
Rachel: I’m studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) through Hofstra’s scholarship exchange program with UvA. This year is actually the 25th anniversary of Hofstra’s partnership with the University of Amsterdam.
Kylie: I am currently studying abroad in London – Kensington to be exact – through an outside program called AIFS.
How was the process of getting ready to study abroad?
Alexa: Both schools were very well prepared in the process and offered lots of help throughout. Before I left for the summer I also attended a Pre-Departure Orientation where I sat in seminars about the culture, packing, traveling, and more.
Rachel: The process of getting ready to study abroad was actually a bit stressful. For my program, I had to apply for the scholarship through Hofstra first, and then apply to the University of Amsterdam. I didn’t find out I got into the school until the very last day of spring semester and I wasn’t able to get any classes approved for credit, so I spent the summer trying to get pre-approval so there won’t be too many issues when I’m back. There were lots of other small paperwork things to get done, and I’ll admit it was a bit tedious, but worth it now that I’m finally here!
Kylie: During the previous semester, the process of getting ready to study abroad was definitely the most stressful part. When you go to the study abroad office at Hofstra, they give you a folder filled with all of the paperwork you must complete in order to go abroad. Afterwards, you are left alone without any guidance to complete everything needed. You must get all of the paperwork signed off regarding your budget, scholarships, classes you’ll take abroad and more. It sounds easy enough, but you definitely hit a few bumps along the way. The most stressful part of the process for me was getting each head of the different departments to sign off on all of my classes. The courses you choose abroad must match a course Hofstra offers, or else the department head will not sign off. This was a struggle, and it took a lot of persuasion to get all of the departments to sign off – and maybe a few tears too.
Why did you choose your location and to study abroad in general?
Alexa: I always knew that studying abroad was something I wanted to do when I applied to Lasell. Many of my older friends had done it and told me about how enriching it was for them. I knew it was something out of my comfort zone, but when else would I get the chance to travel the world with close friends all while learning in my field of study?
Specifically, I chose London because it is known for its unique sense of fashion and style. Additionally, one of the biggest factors for me was that they speak English here, so it wasn’t a huge transition.
Rachel: Amsterdam picked me! I was feeling a bit stuck in life and wanted a change, so I applied for this program telling myself if I got the scholarship, it was a sign I should go. It’s always been my dream to travel, so what’s great about Amsterdam is that it’s so central in Europe and I can travel within the continent easily. I think it’s really important as a young person to experience other cultures so you can have a better understanding of the world.
Kylie: Ever since I was in middle school, I was obsessed with the idea of living in London. I kept telling myself, my friends and my family that I would live there someday, and I even have a ring with the coordinates of London! Now, I am officially living my dream and I hope to continue living here after I graduate. I consider this study abroad experience to be a “trial run” before I actually attempt living here after graduation.
How was adjusting to your location the first few weeks?
Alexa: The first couple of days of being here were extremely overwhelming. Being in a new environment with no parents, transportation or food is a difficult adjustment. Although now my friends and I might not be the best cooks yet, we have learned to “adult” on our own. Navigating through London and the tube is a piece of cake!
Rachel: Getting used to life in Amsterdam was definitely a challenge. Figuring out how to bike everywhere and grocery shop for myself was hard, but now that I’ve figured out how to do it, I’m really proud of myself. I’m already a lot more confident in my capabilities, and I love exploring all the cool neighborhoods Amsterdam has.
Kylie: Getting used to life in London was extremely easy for me as there is no language barrier to deal with, and it has a very easy transportation system to navigate. I was used to living here in no time!
What are you looking forward to this semester?
Alexa: During the rest of my semester here I am definitely looking forward to traveling some more. Now that I have a general sense of everything around me I would love to explore other countries while I have the chance.
Rachel: I’m really looking forward to being able to travel throughout the semester! I’ve already been to Belgium, and I’m planning trips to Oktoberfest and Barcelona in the next few weeks.
Kylie: I am definitely looking forward to meeting tons of new people and exploring all that London has to offer during my semester here. I am especially excited to visit as many new areas as I possibly can, while attempting to become a local! Specifically, I want to visit all of London’s museums, pubs and gluten free restaurants!