Carly Hamilton - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I have always had a passion for travel, exploring new places, and meeting new people. Ever since college, I've felt a huge sense of independence and discovery that I really wanted to harness and develop. I had several friends who went abroad a year before me and literally would not shut up about it, so I figured this was my opportunity. I tend to get bored doing the same things day to day, so I was inspired to try this completely new experience and throw myself way outside of my comfort zone to see how well I would be able to handle it. I thrived. Seriously, I became the best version of myself while abroad and I wish I could do it all over again.

Air Race ride on the Brighton Pier, England
Brighton, England

Why did you choose CAPA The Global Education Network?

CAPA was the program offered through my specific school. I'm a journalism major at the University of Missouri, so it was kind of just a given that I would go through CAPA. However, I loved that they offered not only study abroad, but the opportunity to work in the country as well. I thought it was great that I would get the chance to experience the professional aspect of London as well as the academic and social side.

What was your favorite part about London?

I just love all that London is. I love the people, the atmosphere, the hustle and bustle, literally everything. There is no stereotypical Londoner. Everyone there comes from such drastically different backgrounds yet makes up this city that felt like home. It was truly fascinating to see all the different people and experience living amongst them. It's also such a big city that you can never do everything in it. I tried so hard to get everything done on my bucket list, but then another thing would always pop up and the list would never end. I loved this because there was always something to do, and no matter how long you've been there for, there's always something you haven't done yet.

Girls in front of Buckingham Palace, London, England
High tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, London

What made your experience abroad unique?

I was in London during the iconic Brexit vote, and what a day it was. I remember the day of the vote was also a day that it rained so hard that several Tube stations flooded and trains were cancelled; there was quite literally a panic in the city. My personal tube station, Embankment, was closed, so I walked further to another one, Temple. The tubes lost signal so we ended up slamming to a stop so hard that people quite literally fell over. It was pure chaos. I wish I could even come close to explaining the tension that was in the air; theoretically, because of the vote, but literally, because of this flooding that seemed to throw the entire city into havoc. That whole day was a blur. People thrust newspapers and "I'm in" stickers at me, clearly not knowing that I in fact didn't have a say in the matter.

The next day I was at the airport heading to Lisbon, Portugal really early in the morning. We were standing in the security line when the news came out that the UK decided to leave the EU. Cue more panic and people literally screaming. It was such a huge moment in history that I will never forget.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The CAPA staff was always at the front desk ready and eager to offer us recommendations or advice on travel, activities, places to eat, etc. They planned group events for us to get everyone involved and were all around very helpful. Additionally, our British professor was the greatest professor I've ever had and taught me so incredibly much.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Honestly, nothing. I was really disciplined about squeezing the most out of every opportunity. I only wish I had more time there.

Olympic Rings at Queen Elizabeths Olympic Park in London, England
Don't ask me how I got up here: Queen Elizabeth's Olympic Park, London

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

On any given Thursday, I woke up and got to my internship at 9 a.m. I made myself a cup of tea and stayed until noon. From there I hopped on the tube and made my way either to the CAPA building or wherever we were meeting for class that day. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., our British professor taught us about British life and culture through field trips. After class we typically grabbed afternoon tea somewhere and explored the area we were already in, or sometimes we had to run to the airport for a flight to a different country for the weekend.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

My favorite thing to do in my free time was explore. Literally just hop on the Tube, pick any old stop and get off there with no map or plan. Sometimes I'd go with my roommate, sometimes alone. Either way it was always more fun with fewer people. We would take our cameras and find quaint little corners of the city to pose with and get a feel for that particular area of town. Since the city's so big, it was incredibly easy to find somewhere new all the time. We loved trying new coffee or cake shops, peaking into boutiques, everything; that was my favorite part.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

We lived in Conway Hall right off Waterloo Station. It was sort of a mix between a dorm and a flat, but was incredibly modern and clean and easily accessible. They had everything we needed and the staff was very friendly. I liked it a lot.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

It will feel overwhelming at first, being in a foreign country while taking classes, working, and traveling on the side. But, it is so so so worth it. You get the hang of things pretty quickly and the amount you get out of the program is so worth the time and effort put into it, I promise.

Mind the Gap sign at Kings Cross Station, London, England
Day 1: King's Cross Station, London

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

I think about London every single day. It made me grow as a person and constantly reminds me about the bigger picture in life. I learned not to worry so much about the details, but to enjoy the moment you're in right now because it's fleeting. I have a newfound appreciation for people who are drastically different from me and am genuinely curious about their story. I love learning from people I somehow have the opportunity of interacting with that I may never have the chance to see again.

My time abroad showed me the importance of gaining a global perspective and understanding different cultures.

Would you recommend CAPA to others? Why?

Yes! It was a great experience overall and gave me insight into several aspects of life in a foreign country. It was truly the best experience I've had and might ever have in my life. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.