Hannah Thielmeyer - 2014 Program Participant

Study abroad students at Stonehenge in England

Hannah and her friends on an IES trip to Stonehenge.

Why did you choose to study abroad?

It seems like a little bit of a silly reason, but I think the actual reason I studied in London was Harry Potter. Ever since I read the books in elementary school, I’ve been fascinated with England, getting into British television, books, and radio, and I figured there was no better way to spend three months than to see the place I’d heard and read so much about. I also am pretty terrible at languages, so it was nice to be in a place that didn’t have a language barrier.

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad in London?

The most memorable thing I did while abroad was getting to attend a worldwide movie premiere for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in Leicester Square. I went with friends I had made in my program, friends from home, and friends I had made in London. We spent a day camping out in the cold, which ultimately led to one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and definitely not something I could do in my hometown of Greenwood, Indiana. It was an amazing day of taking advantage of the opportunities that studying in a world cultural center like London has to offer, as well as a great way to spend time with friends and even see a few famous people. Sir Ian McKellen even told me I was a scholar!

9 ¾ in Kings Cross Station in England

Hannah at Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station.

What are the top reasons you’d want to go back to London again?

I would want to go back to London again simply because there is so much to do there. There are always shows to watch, museums (which are usually free!) to visit, and a new part of London to explore. I spent three months in London, which was enough to get me completely hooked on all of the gorgeous sights, historical lessons, and cultural opportunities to be seen. The public transportation is also amazingly run, which makes it simple to get to anything you want to see.

Would you recommend your IES Abroad program to others?

I would definitely recommend the IES London Health Practice and Policy Program to anyone and everyone who is even slightly interested in public health. The classes were interesting and educational without being too demanding, which was great because it left a lot of time to go explore the city. The Oxford class, service learning placement, and the Jamaica service learning trip were also all incredible ways to get a different perspective on a health education. IES also ran several trips around different places in the UK, which were cheap, fun, and convenient ways to see everything the UK has to offer without having to plan a lot on your own or spend too much.

Regents Park in the Fall

Regent’s Park on a fall day.

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

If I could change one thing, I would say that the Oxford series of courses could be adjusted. While the class was certainly interesting, and I will always be able to treasure saying that I am an Oxford student, the travel to and from Oxford was a little bit taxing on everyone in the program. Everyone agreed that it would be beneficial to do once or twice, but that taking classes at a university in a closer location, such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, would be just as beneficial and a lot less inconvenient.

Did you experience any kind of reverse culture shock upon re-entry to the U.S.?

I had reverse culture shock the first time I went into a Target. I actually approached a woman and excitedly proclaimed “You’re American!” when I heard her talk in an American accent, which probably made her believe I was insane. I also had to get used to driving everywhere instead of taking the tube. It also took me about a week to realize that I could stay in and didn’t have to run around Greenwood attempting to have a different adventure every day because it wasn’t London and there simply just weren’t as many adventures to have.