Ashley Moon - 2014 Program Participant

British dinner party in England

My first British dinner party with my beautiful host sisters!

What inspired you to study abroad?

I had studied abroad the year before through a program at my university and it was an amazing experience. I really grew from adapting to a new environment and I wanted to be challenged again. My university had a great deal with CAPA which made it easy and affordable for me to go again in a different way. My study abroad advisor encouraged me to look into CAPA's programs and things just fell into place.

Why did you choose CAPA in London?

Originally, I had planned on studying with CAPA in a different location. At the last minute some things fell through and I didn't know if I would be able to go. Since I had already applied and spent months preparing to study abroad, I was able to change my location to London. I felt comfortable with London already and the program fit my degree better. It was a very last minute decision, but I was immediately excited when the idea was brought to the table.

What was your favorite part about studying abroad in London?

The best part about studying in London was that I had been there before. Coming back home from my first study abroad, there were many times that I thought "I wish I had done ___ differently." Returning to the same place literally gave me a second chance to do it all over again. I was already familiar with the money, transportation system, and basic geography of the city, so I was able to begin my semester a step ahead.

Reading in Hyde Park

Enjoying a Saturday morning with H.G. Wells in Hyde Park

What do you think makes the CAPA London program unique?

Out of about 300 students in my program, I was one of five who chose to live in a homestay with a British family. This was the most incredible experience. My family was extremely warm and helpful, and they really made my experience worthwhile.

It was so amazing to come home and have people to talk with about what I was learning and to have an insider perspective of the way the culture worked.

In what ways did the CAPA staff support you throughout your program?

Everyone I worked with at CAPA has been patient, helpful, and knowledgeable. I really love this company. I had a pre-departure advisor who I called every few days (not because that's normal but because I'm high maintenance) and she was always ready to help me graciously. When I arrived in London, I met all the on-site staff. I worked closely with the internships team as well as the resident director, and made some great relationships with very helpful and caring people.

Do you have any regrets?

To be honest, I wouldn't change a single thing. I had many regrets after my first study abroad and I made sure that I did things differently the second time around. During my first study abroad, I had wished that I'd made more British friends, traveled to more places (both in London and around Europe), and that I had diversified my travel methods instead of always taking the same routes on the train. I kept these things in mind as I returned and had a much more fulfilling experience.

What was a normal day like for you in London?

I only had class twice a week and I worked three times a week. On school days, I would wake up and have breakfast, sometimes with my host family, sometimes alone. I had quite a long commute into the city (an hour to school and an hour and a half to work). On school days, I would have two classes a day. I would be in class from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one hour lunch break in between. After school, I would often go to Hyde Park or explore a new place.

On work days, I would work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each work day was different, but always exciting. I worked for a photographer, so many days we would be in the studio editing or designing on the computer. Other days, we would have photoshoots in the studio or around the city. The work was always changing.

Rainbow over London, England

The best thing about working for a photographer is that when you dash out of the room to capture a rainbow you're completely understood.

What is one of your most memorable experiences from your time abroad?

I took a weekend trip with two of my friends to West Wales. We surfed and kayaked in the ocean and hiked on the cliffs by the coast. It was a truly incredible experience. I had never really been kayaking or surfing, so it was a weekend full of learning and experimenting new activities and places.

Tell us more about your accommodation.

As I mentioned before, I lived in a house with a British family. This was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire life. My family was amazing! They were always happy to see me and talk about what I was learning. We watched movies and cooked food together. We went to festivals and theme parks together. I really felt like part of the family. My host parents had three children, ages 15, 12, and nine. We were all very close. The best part about living with them was that I never felt homesick, because although I wasn't around my family, I was around a family that functioned very normally.

How has studying abroad changed your life?

Studying abroad has totally changed the person I am. It has made me more well rounded, more understanding, and more curious about the world. I've made friends from all over with different backgrounds, passions, and upbringing. It has helped me to see the world in a very positive way.

Visiting Stonehenge in England

Stonehenge with my friends