Caity O’Shaughnessy -2012 Program Participant

Caity Returning to London Over a Year Later.
Caity returning to London over a year later.

Why did you choose ISA over other study abroad programs?

I went through my university's study abroad office for advice on my future semester abroad. This was where I was given a few options, ISA being one of them. I heavily read through each program's packet of information - I was nervous enough about flying across the world alone, and I wanted to make sure that I was with the program that was going to suit me best!

I chose ISA because they gave the option of group excursions, get-togethers, and adventures, but they also let you have your own freedom to explore on your own. They were always there for you whenever you needed, but never stepped over boundaries to make you feel like you were in an international day care. I loved feeling like I was on my own, but having a support system whenever I had questions or problems.

What advice do you have for students who are planning to study abroad in England?

I wish I could fully explain the nerves I had taking this experience. I almost didn't do it. The one thing that pushed me to taking the chance and going for it, was a conversation I had with my mom. We were sitting outside a few months before I was leaving, and what stuck with me the most was when she said "You have to go. What's the worst that can happen? You don't like it? You can always come home."

“You can always come home.”

Hearing those words finalized everything for me. I could take this experience and it could, for some reason, not be for me. And if that happened, I could come home. It was that easy. That being said, it will be for you, and you won't want to come home.

Don't be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone. It's the things that we want to do the most that scare us the most, and that's why we often don't go through with things. But all it takes is a moment of insane courage to make that first step, and after that, your adventures are limitless. Trust me. 

Why is studying abroad in London ideal?

England is an amazing country in itself - there is so much culture and life in every city. While I do think that you will gain a lot from choosing to study anywhere, in my opinion, London may offer you the most with your time.

1. The city is one of the most diverse in the world - you will not only feel like you're immersed in the British life, but get a taste of hundreds of different cultures as well. 

2. Everyone should experience life in a big city at least once - and in this case, a six month semester is a great trial period. You get a true taste of life around 15 million+ people, and really get that “hustle-and-bustle” city-life feel.

3. If you plan to travel around Europe while studying abroad (and you should), London is a great home base for this. There are three airports not far from Central London, and they fly absolutely everywhere! Layovers are very slim, which is great for a quick weekend trip when you're not trying to spend half a day stuck in airports.

What study abroad course was your favorite?

I am a pretty big theatre buff, so my favorite would definitely be the London Theatre and Performance course that I took at my university. In the class, we learned about the basic foundations of theatre, as well as how it grows as a business. We were able to tour The Globe Theatre, as well as The National Theatre, where we were able to “meet” one of the horses from War Horse up close! It's very cool to see how things run from behind-the-scenes, and these are some of the most famous theaters in the world, so it's a great experience everyone would enjoy.

If theatre isn't your thing, I also took a course called London Art and Society. This class was actually recommended to me because I was an international student. Almost every week, you venture out into the London museums, monuments, and cathedrals and are guided through, which helps for some people (like me) who don't understand everything about the art world.

Whatever classes you look into, I definitely recommend taking something that involves London culture.  If you're going to be living in their city, you may as well learn a little while you're there!

How has studying abroad affected your life?

Studying abroad was the absolute greatest experience of my life. I was able to see, do, and experience things I never thought were possible. I found how much more there was to this world, beyond what I ever imagined. I learned so much about myself - what I am capable of, what I am passionate about, where I see myself going in life. It really is difficult trying to sum up what studying abroad did to me.

I was in London over two years ago in the Spring of 2012, and I am still awestruck by how amazing of an experience it was. Not one day did I lay in bed at night and think “that wasn't such a good day” - it sounds unrealistic, but every day for those six months were the best days of my life. If I walked away with a single regret, it's that I didn't study in London for an entire year.

If that explanation doesn't show you how much it has impacted my life, I am currently in the midst of moving back to London in six weeks to start a life there - and I'll mention that I'm moving back with a girl who I was randomly paired to live with over study abroad, who has become my best friend and future roommate.