Jestein Gibson - 2006 Program Participant
The Cavern Club, where The Beatles played in their early days
You were a global studies and history major at Christian Brothers University when you went abroad, why did you decide to apply for an international program in England?
When I was thirteen, I was a student ambassador to Australia with the People to People program. I spent three weeks driving down the east coast of the country, and during that time I swam in the Great Barrier Reef, threw boomerangs with Aborigines, stayed with a host family, ate crocodile meat, got chased by kangaroos, basically I had the trip of a lifetime. After that trip, I knew I wanted to see more of the world, and I knew I wanted to study abroad in college.
I chose England because I was a huge Anglophile. British history has always interested me; I love Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, the Beatles, you name it, I love it.
What set Edge Hill’s program apart from others when comparing programs overseas?
Edge Hill’s program is extremely immersive. I rarely had another American in my classes, so I was able to really be surrounded by people from British culture, and from other cultures as well; Edge Hill has international students from all over the world. Also, I was able to take classes I would have never had the opportunity to take at my home college: Russian Revolution, Britain’s Prime, Britain’s Decline: Economic Policy since 1780, and Human Geography. Even the Victorian literature course I took while I was studying at Edge Hill was better, because on the weekends I could visit London, Edinburgh, and Dublin to see where the authors were when they wrote their famous novels!
You studied abroad during the fall of your junior year in college, why did you choose this time in your collegiate career?
It made the most sense to study abroad during my junior year because I was able to declare my major and plan my coursework ahead of time. I was able to get into advanced classes at Edge Hill because I had already taken the prerequisite courses at home. Also, college life can be overwhelming the first two years and I wanted to settle in at my home college, Christian Brothers University, before I traveled.
The Edge Hill Rugby League 2006-2007 squad
What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?
Exploring! I obtained my Young Persons Railcard my first week, and that discount paid for itself! I also lucked out and only had my classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays so I had a four-day weekend every week to see everything I could! During my time at Edge Hill, I was able to see Liverpool, Manchester, London, Chester, Conwy (Wales), the Lake District, Edinburgh and the Highlands, Paris and a good bit of Normandy, and Dublin.
I also joined the Rugby League squad. We had practices on campus and also nights out as a team in Ormskirk. The team traveled around northern England to play matches; we were actually quite good!
What was the most memorable part of your study abroad experience at Edge Hill?
I loved spending time with my Katherine Fletcher dorm mates. When I think back at my time there, the first things I remember are the common room where we had parties and taught each other new card games, or the kitchen across the hall from my room where I tried to learn how to cook for the first time in my life (I was 20 and desperately lacking cooking expertise). I loved my dorm! I’m still friends with many people I lived with over there.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an international student in the UK?
Learning to travel. The taxis, subway system, and train system were all new to me! I come from the American South where you drive everywhere, so I had no concept of tickets or having to depend on a schedule to get home. Due to necessity, I picked it up very quickly!
How did the Edge Hill staff support and guide you throughout your program to help you achieve success?
The Edge Hill staff were great support people! They took us on a tour of Ormskirk and Liverpool once we got there to help us get familiar with the geography. If ever I had a problem, I knew I could just head over to the International Office and they would help sort it out.
Looking out over Omaha Beach in Normandy, France where D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944
What advice would you give to others interested in studying abroad at Edge Hill?
The best advice I could give is if you’re going to travel all the way to England, don’t be afraid to dive into the culture! Make some friends in your halls and in your classes, try to make at least one friend you can share your experiences with, and see as much as you can while you can! Take a calendar with you and after you get your class schedule, start planning your travel schedule. If you buy your plane and train tickets early, you’ll save hundreds!
Why is Ormskirk such a great location to study abroad?
Its location is steeped in history. Ormskirk literally means “Ormr’s Church.” Ormr was believed to be a Christian Viking who settled and founded a church there. The town square has an old eighteenth century clock tower at its center. During Christmastime, the town is so gorgeously decorated, you’d think you were walking into a Hallmark movie.
Ormskirk just happens to be perfectly situated between Manchester and Liverpool; both cities have bustling airports with tons of cheap flights. Some of my favorite activities were taking the train into Liverpool to go shopping, check out a museum, or take a walking tour. Liverpudlians are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet and the street musicians were so talented.
You completed a postgraduate program at the University of Glasgow. How did your experience studying abroad at Edge Hill impact this choice?
I mentioned earlier that I spent several weekends traveling; my favorite trip was the one I took up north to Scotland. During Thanksgiving 2006, my friend and I took the train to Edinburgh and stayed at a hostel off Market Street (The hostel also assured me they would provide a turkey dinner, but before we got downstairs all the Kiwis ate it! My friend and I were stuck with chicken on Thanksgiving; I’ve never looked at New Zealand the same way). The next day, we took a tour of the Highlands and saw castles, lochs, the Loch Ness monster (just kidding, but I did take tons of pictures!), it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen and I knew I had to come back.
When I returned home I started researching graduate programs and I found the perfect one at the University of Glasgow. I’m so glad that my experience at Edge Hill led me to the University of Glasgow, which in turn, led me to my Glaswegian husband and a great job back home!
On Loch Ness with Urquhart Castle in the background
What impact has studying abroad had on your life?
Studying abroad has changed the way I see the world for the better. The world can be an intimidating place if you let it. I’m no longer afraid to pick up my life and go have new experiences and make new friends, in fact that’s what I want to keep doing as my children get older. We’ve already taken our oldest to Scotland, now that her younger sister has been born, next year it’s Scotland and Italy!
You currently work as a museum curator, what skills from your experience at Edge Hill do you use in your current role?
I frequently get to use the knowledge that I obtained in the classroom, especially my Victorian literature course, in my current role. We have a Victorian era mansion as part of our museum system, and I love working with the objects in that historic house museum. Furthermore, being a museum professional, I get to meet colleagues and visitors from all over the world, and my museum schedules several traveling exhibits throughout the year. It’s always fun to meet new people and learn more about a new subject; Edge Hill helped me prepare for both!