Colin Brown - 2012 Program Participant

Portobello Road Market in London, England

Portobello Road Market on the weekend. Photo Credit: Colin Brown

What experiences led you to studying abroad?

In high school, I participated in a French exchange program that challenged a lot of my preconceived notions about how things are supposed to be, and really brought me out of my insular shell. I think at that point I channeled my inner Leslie Knope in thinking, “the world is a very big place, and I’ve seen very little of it.” 

Why was London a great location for studying abroad?

London is a great place to study abroad for a number of reasons. With no language barrier, it’s an easy transition. If you’re nervous about going abroad for the first time, London will probably be less of a culture shock, but it’s also right on the doorstep of the rest of Europe if you want to explore more. Then, of course, is the city itself.  London is one of the few great metropolises in the world, full of culture, diversity, and entertainment.

What benefits did CAPA’s program offer you?

CAPA allowed me to be flexible with my classes while also being located right in the heart of London – which was important to me. I was able to fulfill some core classes I needed at my home university (an art class is much more enjoyable when your classroom is some of the best museums in the world) and also allowed me work an internship while I wasn’t taking classes, which was a great experience. 

Changing of the guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace in England

Changing of the guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Photo Credit: Colin Brown

What were your housing arrangements in London like?

A small flat I shared with four other American university students. There were other CAPA students in similar apartments near us, so it was nice to see some familiar faces on the way to class.  Most of my time was spent outside the apartment, either at the CAPA classroom center, at my internship, or out exploring the city. 

What was a normal day like as a student in London?

On a typical day I would walk down to the tube (underground) station near my flat and head over to the CAPA classroom center where I would stay for most of the day, either in class or hanging out in the lounge with some of the other students.

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

Tough question. There are so many vivid memories I have of those four months seeing famous landmarks, traveling to other countries with friends, exploring the amazing nightlife of the city, and countless others. The time my friend and I traveled to Liverpool to see my first top-flight football match was pretty special. 

Visiting Stonehenge in England

A CAPA group excursion to Stonehenge.  Photo Credit: Colin Brown

What was the biggest challenge you faced abroad?

Time-management. I was taking a few classes and then interning part-time whenever I was not in class so, during the week, I was busy at all hours. You may not have the same course-load as a typical semester, but planning ahead and being proactive in setting your goals and then accomplishing them is huge. 

What advice would you give to other guys interested in studying abroad?

You will hear this from virtually every other study abroad alum, but just do it. This is a life-changing event in so many ways, and despite the inevitable difficulties you will face and the times you feel like giving up and going home, it will also be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Do your research on locations, talk with your study abroad office, identify obstacles and you will be fine.    

What did you love about London?

Pubs, great ethnic food, and fantastic public transportation.

How has studying abroad impacted your life?

In one semester, I developed professional and life skills that I would not have addressed otherwise, or at least, not until much later. I was totally responsible for my own academic and work schedule in a city I had never navigated before, and I was working with new people in a multicultural office in one of the largest cities in the world. Even the process of coordinating logistics for a four-person trip to Italy, and then successfully carrying out that trip, was a moment of real accomplishment for me.

Of course, the other way studying abroad changes you is by opening your eyes to new cultures, practices, and surroundings. For me, my experiences piqued my interest in urban planning.

At the top of El Escorial in Spain

Standing above El Escorial, Spain after an afternoon hike.

Would you recommend the CAPA London program to others?

I would. It’s a great program in the center of London that has a lot to offer, especially in terms of internships. CAPA is also one of the oldest study abroad providers so it has well-established connections between its programs and host locations.