Read about other students experiences in the UK

Name: Rachel Gabrian
Program: Semester Exchange at Lancaster University
Major: Sociology
Term Abroad: Fall 2019

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Lancaster Castle

 

Classes

Classes at Lancaster University were a huge change from what I am used to here at UMSL. I am a Sociology major, so I took 2 Sociology courses (Family and Intimate Relationships; Feminism and Social Change) and 1 Humanities course (Creative Writing). I can only speak on my experiences with these subjects.

 

To start, two of my classes were yearlong courses. To accommodate my one-semester stay, I was given a different schedule of assignments than my classmates in those cases. All of my classes consisted of weekly readings and lectures, but none of my classes had assignments due until the end of the semester. This meant that the first 6-7 weeks of classes had a significantly smaller workload than I was used to. Consequently, the last 2-3 weeks of classes were full of project work and paper writing.

 

At Lancaster University, the Michealmas (Fall) semester begins in early October, so I did not need to fly over until late September for orientation week. Winter break begins mid-December and will be when you can fly back. That said, finals week for the Michealmas term is technically the first week back after winter break; therefore, I had an assignment for each of my classes that I needed to work on while on break, and email in during January.

 

Housing

Lancaster has plenty of variety in housing options. I lived in County College townhouses. Each townhouse holds 12 people, but everyone has their own room. As someone who was looking to make quick social connections, this was perfect for me. I was able to make friends my first night while still having a private space when I needed it. I was a bit worried at first, because County College is located furthest north on campus. Luckily campus is easier to navigate than the campus map makes it seem. My closest class was in the building right next to my house, and my furthest was a fifteen-minute walk.

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County College Townhouses

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Courtyard at County College Townhouses

 

Student Life

Student life was my favorite part of Lancaster. I was lucky that I got along super well with my roommates, but there are tons of other ways to meet people and lots of things to do. In the first couple weeks, the school has a huge society (club) fair where 175 societies hold booths and sign ups. There are volunteer opportunities, all types of sports, academic societies, LARP, basically anything you can dream of. I joined pole fitness and absolutely loved it.

 

Campus also has 8 bars, one for each college. The bars are a great place to hang out with friends, and they also host trivia nights and other fun activities. In town, there are a variety of bars and clubs that you will likely see during orientation week. The Sugarhouse is a club owned by the University’s Student Government. It is open every Wednesday and Saturday and often hosts themed events.

 

Weekend Trips

I went on 3 weekend trips out of the UK and 4 trips in the UK. While trips out of the UK can be more expensive, they were definitely worth it for me. I mostly used discount flight sites and AirBnB to plan my trips. If these sorts of trips are too expensive or intimidating, there is still plenty you can do nearby. Morecombe Bay is a lovely spot on the coast of England that is accessible by bus. The Lake District, a beautiful national park is only a train ride away. Many cities in England and Scotland are also easy to get to on the train. Edinburgh, Scotland was by far my favorite trip of the whole semester.

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View of Lancaster from Lancaster Castle

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View of countryside from Lancaster Castle

Name: Marie Kenney
Program: Semester Exchange at Lancaster University
Major: English
Term Abroad: Spring 2015

norway

I studied abroad in Spring 2015 in England at the University of Lancaster in the beautiful, windswept area of north-western Britain commonly known as Lancashire and Cumbria. The day after I arrived, January 8th, it snowed a quarter of an inch and all the Lancaster residents freaked out. It was then I knew for sure I was no longer in St. Louis. My time abroad had officially begun. 

ashton memorial

I knew that I wanted to study abroad when I was only a freshman in high school, but it wasn’t until my junior year at UMSL that this finally became a reality. I chose Lancaster University because of its location (I <3 Doctor Who), wide range of course offerings, and easy access to other European countries. I was pretty nervous about leaving my family, home university, and country to live in England for 5 months, but once I arrived, met other students, and started to settle in I knew I had made the best decision. 

lake district

Because I studied in Lancaster for two terms—almost like short semesters or quarters!—I had a month long break in between the end of one term and the beginning of the next. Wanting to utilize this break to our advantage, a few of my friends from Lancaster and I decided to start backpacking across Europe. This month long excursion onto mainland Europe was one of the highlights of my study abroad experience. Not only did I get to see tons of different cities and towns in England, I also traveled to Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Florence, Sieci, Rome, Oslo, Flam, and Bergen! 

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If you are on the fence about studying abroad, I encourage you to take the plunge and do it! It’s so incredibly worthwhile. The experiences you have abroad, the friends you make there, the different cultures you experience, and the places you will see will stay with you forever. I only caution you because once you go, you will definitely want to go back. SOON! 

florence

Name: Grace Minton
Program: UMSL exchange program at the University of East Anglia, Norwich in England
Major: Communications
Term Abroad:
 Fall semester during senior year

graceengland1

Dear Student,

I am writing you this letter to encourage you to study abroad. I just returned from a semester long adventure in England, and I truly loved every minute of my experience! In this letter, I want to tell you a little bit more about my experiences in England and the rest of Europe, as well as discuss how meaningful this experience was to me.

I chose to study in England because I had a huge interest in British culture. I have always been interested in The British Invasion of the 1960s, Shakespeare, and many other things associated with the country. England was the ideal place for me to study because it allowed me to explore many different historical locations throughout the country while still being able to communicate freely with locals. And, on that note, I am not fluent in any other foreign languages, so England was very appealing because I knew I would be able to speak with ease to British citizens.

 italy

Before I left for England, friends and family members advised me on where to go in Europe on weekends or holidays. I chose to go on a group guided tour for two weeks before the start of the British fall semester. The tour was wonderful and exhausting! I got to see seven different countries in fifteen days. We went to Monaco, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Vatican City. Although the tour was truly exhausting, I am glad that I was able to experience so many countries and get a taste of European life on the mainland before the start of the semester. Each country had different things to offer. Personally, Italy was my favorite place on the tour. However, I know many people who preferred Germany, Switzerland, and the rest of the nations on the list. Each country was truly magnificent to experience because it gave me a greater appreciation for history, architecture, food, and the importance of European nations. I recommend that anyone who is interested in studying abroad do a little bit of research on the various nations before arriving in Europe. That way, when you arrive, you know kind of what you are interested in seeing and what nations might have things that you value. At the same time, though, I think it is important for students to step out of their comfort zones and give new places a chance. I went in thinking that the Netherlands would be a really dangerous and wild nation because prostitution and marijuana are legal there. However, I quickly realizes that people in the Netherlands are extremely kind, welcoming, and value simple pleasures in life. They place a huge emphasis on biking and respect the environment! So, if you go to Europe, Asia, South America, or anywhere else in the world, take a chance and try to do something you might be a little uncomfortable doing. It could end up being delightful and raise your awareness of the world!

 paris

The British people and the British school system are much different than what is common in America. The people are nice and helpful, but they seem kind of shy in the beginning. I recommend putting yourself out there to make friends whenever possible. I joined a lot of different clubs and organizations so I could get to know British students and experience British culture on a more authentic level. Once I was adjusted and overcame my “culture shock,” I fell in love with Great Britain and the English way of life. I think getting involved in on-campus activities was one of the most positive things I did while abroad. I learned a little bit more about rock climbing, salsa dancing, and yoga while managing to make friends and stay fit.

 italy

Basically, I cannot say enough positive things about my semester abroad! I learned a lot about different cultures, and even picked up some French and Italian phrases. Additionally, I made friends that opened my eyes to new perspectives on life and the purpose of humanity. I am so grateful for the time I spent abroad! I think that, if possible, everyone should venture outside of his or her comfort zone to embrace and try to understand different perspectives. This adventure was life-altering in the best way possible! I hope that this letter has convinced you that studying abroad if worth your time. The benefits far outweigh any negatives you might think of. You will come back enlightened, conscious of the world around you, and in awe of the other cultures you have experienced firsthand!

Sincerely,

Grace Minton

italy

 

france

Name: Jake Dodge
Program: Missouri London Program in London, UK
Major: Elementary Education
Term Abroad: Summer program during his senior year

Jake Big Ben

Studying abroad was something I always considered doing and UMSL provided so many options. Having searched our website, I came across a few options and liked the London programs. The Missouri London Program offered a study abroad session in the Fall, Spring, and Summer. I did a full six-week summer program at the University of Roehampton which is only 25 minutes outside central London! Instead of boring you with the details, let me share why studying abroad is an experience you just cannot pass up. Not only was it great to experience the country of England, but other countries in the continent as well. First, studying abroad can be great to add to your Resume. International experience could make you stand out among other applicants. When I studied abroad in London I got to take modules that explored the schools of England. My other module was a Sociology class that had class field trips in the city. My point is, learning in a different country allows one to learn in a different setting with different perspectives. I am an education major so I took what I learned and will use it the rest of my life.

Jake Wimbeldon

 My time in London was everything I could have hoped for. Going abroad allows you to meet people around the world, explore new sites, and get enriched in another culture. My program provided all of us with our own flats with sinks and kitchens. I had my own room and was within walking distance to all my classes. Adding to that, Roehampton was a perfect green and cozy borough that did not have the craziness of the city, but allowed easy access to all parts of London.  Furthermore, it was not hard navigating around London and the rest of Europe. The transportation is great and London has so many choices to choose from. England was a great jumping off point to the rest of Europe. I could take a high-speed train and get to Belgium or Paris in two hours! Rome was also a place I visited and got there by plane in two hours! I became even more independent and really tried to take advantage of traveling. The Missouri London Program also has what they call a social program where they take you on trips by coach and train to amazing sites. I visited Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath, Tower of London, Hampton Court, and many other sites. My list of favorite things I did abroad were: Eiffel Tower, Rome in a day tour with entrance to Vatican and Coliseum, Wimbledon tennis tournament, Harry Potter Studio tour, and all the London and England castles and historic places. In addition, museums were mostly all free and very informative for a prospective social studies teacher like myself. 

Jake Rome

When you think about your future I hope it will include studying abroad. Take advantage of what UMSL has to offer because our study abroad department is top notch and very knowledgeable. I will be studying abroad again after my last couple semesters. I will be teaching in China and looking forward to seeing what Asian culture has to offer. As a teacher, I want to have a myriad of international experience to share with my classroom. I worked very hard on my grades and worked with our fabulous financial aid department and earned many scholarships to help me finance my trip. Studying abroad was the most exciting and enriching experience of my life. It was the highlight of my college career and all my travels are going to help me later in life. 

Jake Paris

ame: Haley Cole
Program: Semester Exchange at the University of East Anglia, Norwich in England
Major: Psychology
Term Abroad:
 Spring semester during sophomore year 

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Pre departure

I never planned on studying abroad in college. It seemed nice but a dream that was too far out of reach financially. After my freshman year here I was more than comfortable with the campus.  I was working   on campus that summer and exploring the back hall ways of the MSC. That’s when I stumbled into the study abroad office. I left with a couple of information packets containing unimaginable opportunities.  Selecting a program was a difficult decision only because there are so many amazing places to go. I met with advisors on and off after the initial stop and as they explained to me how study abroad works, it became more and more real to me.  I was shocked at how affordable studying abroad could be. Not only that, but you can take a semester or a year in a foreign country and earn credit towards graduation? The application process was a little rough. I like to plan things out way ahead of time, so waiting for my visa, course assignments, and to book my plane tickets was not easy.  I ticked the boxes off on my to do list, as I turned in parts of the application material, and as my departure date got closer. I’m still in awe of how this completely life-change experience just seemed to fall together from one curious detour into the study abroad office. 

The Beginning

I was beyond excited for my semester abroad in England. I packed my suitcase, unpacked, and repacked again until it was under 50 pounds. The morning I left I said goodbye to my parents at the airport gate. As I left, I didn’t look back and haven’t since.

The beginning of my semester abroad was a full 24-hours of firsts. It was my first time traveling alone, first international flight, first taxi ride, finishing strong with my first night in a British flat all alone. Luckily it was also the first day of some of my strongest friendships. I met other international students at orientation that first morning, and we helped each other get accommodated.  There is a strange sense of unity when you realize less than a day ago you walked away from all of your friends and family, all of the comforts of home, to embark on a journey oceans from any sense of familiarity, your completely on your own, and they are just like you. 

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Living Abroad

I was taking the place of another exchange student, who was returning to America, in my new flat. My flat mates didn’t arrive until a couple of days after I did. You can imagine my surprise when I arrived home one day to 7 strangers having a drink in my apartment. The initial awkwardness quickly turned into fascination on both sides about our very different cultures.  My flat mates eventually found Missouri on the US map, and I became accustomed to their “yourah’right?”s  instead of  my “hey whats up”s. They helped me format papers, invited me out when they went, and stayed in and watched movies with me when we didn’t.  My flat was a part of the university accommodation, just a short walk off campus. I had my own small room equipped with a desk, bed, wardrobe, and bathroom pod. The kitchen, which all 8 of us shared, was our gathering grounds. It was home to many fond memories of afternoon teas, cooking disasters, and even a few flat parties.

Academics at UEA

When I signed up for my classes abroad, I did exactly what they tell you not to: scroll through the course offerings and pick whatever sounds fun. Luckily it was so early in my college career that my random selections could be counted towards my general education credits. Awesome as my schedule sounded, it definitely wasn’t easy. The British school system is stricter, more competitive, and it is taken much more seriously by the students. I kind of went into my study abroad experience treating it like a vacation, until I realized I was going to have to devote much more time to my education. There was a lot of reading to do, and small group discussion. I was surprised and relieved that the only testing done was on the final exam, but that added hours to my finals week revision period because the stakes were that much higher. I can honestly say that I was challenged in my classes abroad, but a rigorous course load is still an important part of any study abroad experience. 

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Travel

I was very fortunate during my time abroad to have many travel opportunities. I traveled all around the UK, and to other European countries as well. My first trip outside of England was to Paris with the International Student Society. Imagine 60 people crammed into a bus all toting backpacks full of cheap wine, and walking shoes. Despite the less than ideal travel conditions, the trips I went on were extraordinary.  Sharing hostels with friends is a uniquely overseas experience. We navigated the Parisian subway together, struggled to order food from little old ladies at baguette stands, and spent a night running around like children under the night sky and the glow of the Eiffel tower. I also went on many trips that I planned on my own with other international students.  We went to Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland, and Tenerife just to name a few.  My best British friend and I traveled all around Europe during our break from exams. We went to Hungary, Poland, Belgium, and stopped off in Manchester, on the other side of the country, to cure my separation anxiety from taco bell.

I made amazing friends on my trip even though I was only there for 6 months. I started off completely on my own, and left with friendships that will truly last a life time. Pictured above are some of my international friends. On the left is a picture of my flat mate Jonny and I in Budapest. We took pictures just after we arrived in each airport on our country-hopping trip to document our survival. I still talk to Jonny all the time, and he is coming to America for his year abroad soon. It’s almost like we traded cultures for short periods of our lives. Although we didn’t know each other before, and we come from very different worlds, he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I feel that time and oceans will not be able to separate our friendship. On the right are two more international friends, one from Greece and one British. They too offered me not just good times but a new cultural perspective I didn’t even know I was looking for.

I have always taken academics seriously, and was warned of the stricter scholarly standards before I left for England. Balancing social life and school life is hard no matter what country one is in. However, I think that it is important not to overlook the good times in pursuit of good grades. While I did achieve high marks in my courses, what taught me the most overseas was interacting with other people. Studying abroad is all about learning by doing and in order for that to happen you have to immerse yourself in multiple aspects of culture. I played on the volleyball team at UEA and in the top left corner is a picture of my teammates and I on a volleyball pub-crawl. To the right of that is a picture of my flat mates who helped me become adjusted to English life and to grow as a person. Below, on the left is a photograph from a party with a group of the international students. We represented New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Canada, and of course America, and had an amazing time doing it. Finally on the bottom right, is a photograph from the end of the year ball, put on by the volleyball team. We dressed to the nines and celebrated an awesome seasons of wins and winning friendships.

In the end

I came back from Europe a completely different person. I had new perspectives, an open mind, and an insatiable case of wander lust. I think that every university student should study abroad.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to apply for this program, but looking back I’m so glad that I did. I have come out a stronger, more confident, globally minded person, not to mention had a ton of fun, and I hope that everyone will take advantage of their opportunity to experience that through UMSL study abroad.

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Name: Paul Salley
Program: UMSL study abroad through Missouri London Program in England
Major: Communications
Term Abroad:
 Spring semester during senior year

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My motivation and reasoning for studying abroad in England is proof that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. In the summer of 2007, I embarked on a journey to tell the story of Jimmy McCulloch, an incredibly talented musician who tragically passed away in 1979 at just 26 years old. He was best known for being Paul McCartney's lead guitarist in Wings in the mid 70's and was only sixteen when he became the youngest guitarist to play on a UK number one single with Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air." I had no idea what type of response I'd get when I started contacting various people who knew him throughout his life. After all, I was just some random kid from the Midwestern United States. Much of the response has been positive and not only have people been more than happy to share their memories of Jimmy but they've also complimented me on what a remarkable job I'm doing. I've managed to get in contact with over 100 people ranging from musicians who had played with him to mates of his to photographers who photographed him during his career and fans who had seen him perform in concert.

paul

I managed to do all this via the internet and through the mail, which is pretty impressive if you ask me. As long as I was in the United States, I knew that ultimately my project couldn't get off the ground. I had to go to England if I wanted to make any further progress. Luckily for me, England was one of the locations that UMSL's study abroad program offered. Once I was accepted into the Missouri-London program, I began making preparations for being overseas for the first time and my mind began to wander about all the different types of things I'd experience.

Being in England allowed me to accomplish so much within a short span of time. Among the highlights were seeing Paul McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall and traveling to Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool (Where I got to go on a Beatle tour of the city) and visiting Warner Brothers Studios for the making of the Harry Potter films tour. However, the highlight of the entire trip was spending time with Jimmy's family. I can't even begin to describe how much that meant to me. They were so welcoming and made me feel like I was part of their family.

paul

In terms of classes, I really enjoyed how my classes took advantage of being in London and really used the city as a classroom. I am a visual learner so I loved learning about the rich history of London during the walks we took around the city rather than just sitting in class for three hours. Studying abroad in England was the best decision I've made because not only did it allow me to experience a different culture and helped me grow as an individual, it helped me to further my project. My advice for those who are on the fence about studying abroad would be to take the opportunity to do it because it is a once in a lifetime experience that not a lot of people get so take complete advantage of it.

paul

paul

Name: Tyler Sanguinette
Program: UMSL exchange at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Major: Fine Arts - Graphic Design
Term Abroad:
 Senior, Fall 2014

 

Norwich: “A Fine City”

 

“Nervous?”

“Yes.”

“First time?”

“No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.”

 

If you are familiar with the movie “Airplane” then you already know where this quote is headed. I think it is a good representation of not only my pre-departure feelings for my study abroad experience but in a quirky way an indication of the things to come. Before leaving the country I prepared as best I could. This included visiting and emailing my academic advisor more times than I probably should have, checking plane ticket prices until I was sure I had found the best one and reading an exorbitant amount of articles on British culture. Of course it takes many tasks to prepare for an experience such as this but these were the top three for me — well, four if you count course credit evaluations.

Now that I had read about British culture and planned the finer details it was time to experience it. The first day and week was filled with exciting new things or at least different from what I experienced at home in Missouri. I learned the dissimilarities between countries fairly quickly as you are embarrassed in the new culture. My flatmates were from Canada, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Scotland and England so I was able to gain some knowledge about different cultures and even pick up a few Swedish words. On the other hand, I found myself trying to explain American politics and sharing ideals much as everyone did in our flat. From my study around experience I definitely learned a few life lessons. It helped me understand situations better and taught me how to communicate regardless of the obstacle(s) at hand. On a fundamental level, I grew in areas that expanded my flexibility, open-mindedness, assertiveness and self-confidence along with learning how to be independent.

To discuss school life, modules were a bit different than American “classes". Modules [classes] usually met once a week for two hours, that is for art history. My plant biology module met three times a week for one hour and consisted of two practicals that were 5 hours each. There was a lot of reading to do, especially for art history. Each art history module had a specified set reading each week, easily 15 to 20 pages per class. Sometimes there were more than one depending on the topic at hand. Among papers, presentations and class involvement were factors relating to marks [grades]. In all, the biggest difference I found in classroom behavior was the open dialogue between teachers and students, even in larger lectures. There is a dialogue that takes place where ideas can be questioned, explained or drawn from but in a more open way.

In general, UEA has beautiful landscapes. It is sort of ironic considering the amount of concrete you are surrounded by. Norfolk, the region UEA is located, and Suffolk are known for their natural beauty. On campus you will find a large broad accompanied by surrounding countryside trails. This is a nice addition to the experience especially when you need to get some fresh air while writing a 15 page paper or have spent hours reading. Norwich, the city, is a typical English town complete with a market, castle, river, Victorian architecture, quaint shopping areas and typical cathedrals. Although I only lived in Norwich for three months I definitely consider it a home — a home away from home.

During my studies I was lucky enough to have traveled extensively. Paris, Edinburgh, London (many trips to London), Cromer, Cambridge, Budapest, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Reykjanesbær were the cities I visited. I’ll never forget the moments I experienced standing atop the Catalonian mountains in Spain, looking outward from the Tour Eiffel, touring the Hungarian parliament, seeing the poppies at the Tower of London, the breathtaking view after climbing a peak in Scotland or standing on a canal bridge in Amsterdam. Traveling, whether it be on a train, boat or airplane, helped me meet interesting people that I would have not engaged with otherwise. 

 tyler

Overall, I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the slightest interest in doing so. If not, then let my study abroad process journal change your mind. It explains my travels on a more extensive note and contains my entire study abroad process from start to finish. Please visit my process journal online at http://tylersanguinette.com/england/ or view all of my pictures at http://flickr.com/tsanguinette/