Allyse Johnson - 2013 Program Participant

Allyse is a rising senior at Arizona State University studying Communications. Her time abroad left her itching for more adventures and she is now dying to see what the rest of the world has in store.

Crossing the Famous Abbey Road.
Allyse and Her Friends Crossing the Famous Abbey Road. Photo credit to Elise Browne

What characteristics of ISA’s program made it stand out from other study abroad programs in London?

I chose ISA because, although I had a number of options for programs in London, ISA's program at the University of Westminster seemed like it would get me the most bang for my buck. They also seemed like they knew exactly what they were doing - their website was clear and they were extremely helpful when I had questions. I felt confident that ISA would be able to provide me with the best overall experience and support, and let me tell you they did not disappoint. Everything about my experience with ISA was top-notch and I would not trade it for anything.

What advice would you give to other students about to study abroad in London?

Become as much of a "local" as you possibly can. Ride the tube, eat at Pret, and grab a pint whenever the opportunity presents itself. Take advantage of everything the city has to offer, whether that be attending a show in the West End or an afternoon out in one of the many parks. There is SO much to explore in London, and even being there for five months didn't feel like long enough. Definitely don't play the homesick card and hole yourself up in your room, be as adventurous as you have time for.

And, on a practical note, make yourself a budget and stick to it. London is great and tons of attractions are either free or give a good student discount, but it can also get expensive if you don't keep yourself in check.

What made London the best place to study abroad in England?

One of my favorite quotes comes from an English writer and critic by the name of Samuel Johnson. He famously said, "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." I firmly and wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and if you're doing it right, you will never be bored in London. It's one of the most exciting, vibrant cities in the world and it's nearly impossible to run out of things to do. And if you feel the need to get out of the hustle and bustle, it's a great jumping-off point for traveling to other destinations, English or otherwise. Not to mention the fact that it's a huge hub for business and offers some of the best universities in the world.

What was your favorite class at the University of Westminster?

I took an amazing class called "The Past in the Present: London, History, and Museums." The class was all about museums in London and how they presented history and engaged audiences. Prior to taking the class I looked at museums the way many people do, one piece of art or artifact at a time. This course changed my entire perspective and really got me thinking about not only the work that is put into curating content for an exhibition, but also how the display impacts the narrative and how it conveys the story that the curators want the audience to understand. Through this course I even had the opportunity to interview a curator from one of my favorite departments at the British Museum, which was an incredible experience that allowed me to gain even deeper insight into the museum world.

In what ways has study abroad impacted your life?

Study abroad has impacted my life in so many ways, as I'm sure most people will tell you. First of all, one very tangible way I've been impacted is that I now work at my school's Study Abroad Office as a Peer Advisor, and I get to share my story with others and encourage students to go abroad. Second, I made some of my best friends during my semester in London and they've continued to be a great source of support and laughter even a year and some change after my return. Third, I've caught a serious case of wanderlust and have been planning future trips since the day I got back.

Fourth, and I think most importantly, I feel like my time abroad provided me with some fantastic perspectives. Not only was I able to learn the ins and outs of another culture, I came to really understand my own and how it has shaped me. I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible and feel like I've grown significantly as a result of every difficult and wonderful moment overseas. Studying abroad, being away from friends and family, and navigating a new culture are fantastic opportunities to see what you're made of, and I really believe I came out of that experience as a better, more confident version of myself.