James Rahr - 2014 Program Participant

Man standing on the oldest street in the United Kingdom

Walking on the oldest street in the country - Wells, United Kingdom

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I had been abroad before but I wanted something more long term. I wanted something I could dive into and live, something that wasn't just a holiday or vacation. I also knew I wanted to be somewhere in Europe.

Why did you choose to study at Bath Spa University?

Besides being one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, I really, really wanted to study abroad in England. Bath was the quintessential British experience I was looking for. I have found that the English are very open to youthful thinking; I wanted my education to have that kind of style, and it certainly did. Bath Spa University had just been named the most innovative university in the UK when I arrived. Another reason was the possibility of find a job; there is an extreme abundance of open jobs in my field around that location.

Attendees of the Summer Ball at Bath Spa University

Last dance with all our international friends at Summer Ball. Hong Kong, USA, UK, Spain, and Italy represented

What did you like most about Bath?

Like I mentioned earlier, Bath is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and you cannot imagine what I mean until you've experience it for yourself. It has been crowned a UNESCO World Heritage sites as well. The university is nestled on a countryside plot of royal land and collaborates with the farm next door for nutritious food for the students. The main campus sits on the side of hill overlooking a gorgeous lake. The media and arts campus (small but intimate) is at the top of the city in a very "posh" neighborhood and can be easily reached by walking from the main bus station. The main campus is located not too far from the city center of Bath and is only a bus ride away from the nearest airport. London is only a short train ride away as well.

What part of your program experience made it unique?

I took philosophy in a castle on Mondays and Wednesdays. I took marketing in the newly built Commons, which is the most contemporary and stunning structure on campus. It definitely boasts the most innovative title in the UK for a reason. It was also unique in that I was one of the first from my home university to participate.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

My personal advisor was extremely helpful! She was always available to me even when she wasn't in the country. For the most part I went to her with issues concerning my academic course, but she was also willing to help me with day to day activities, like finding the nearest pharmacy or drugstore.

The international office was also very helpful as well. They were really great about getting in touch if they needed anything like paperwork or visas copies and provided me with any copies of any documents I needed whilst studying. It was hard being abroad and being sick, or ill. But the university has a wellness center on campus; you are able to check in or make an appointment to be seen by a nurse. It was extremely helpful and safe when I came down with a cold to go check in at my university, rather than fumbling about for a clinic.

Student with his host family in the United Kingdom

I miss the car rides with my host family

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

I wish I would have gone sooner! But really, I wish I would have stayed and finished my degree there. I really liked the lifestyle of that particular city and the academic course was great. I recently went back and watched my course mates (classmates) graduate.

Describe a day in the life of a Bath Spa University international student.

I would get up and have breakfast with my host family, and then I would have my first class around nine. I would have lunch with friends and then have a few afternoon classes. I would either go study in the library or go into town at one of the many coffee shops.

Dinner, or tea as my host family says, was usually served around 7 p.m., so I would try and be home for that to eat with them. Sometimes I would have a meal out or at some friends' houses. Then at night, if I didn't have class the next morning, I would go into town and see a show or go dancing at one of the clubs. My friends and I often had BBQ's if the weather was nice as well.

What did you enjoy doing on your free time?

Traveling! I saw so much of that beautiful country that I will forever hold it dear to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the people I met along the way too. In fact, I'm friends with the majority of them on Facebook now and I have visited a few since returning to my home country. The people and the places I have been were truly the foundation of my experience and I cannot thank them enough for that.
Visiting the London Eye in London, England

Posing with the London Eye on a weekend excursion

What was your accommodation like? How did you like it?

I was fortunate to stay with a host family with three children, ages 16,12, and six; they were a blast. At first it was a bit tough getting adjusted, not only to a new culture but to new "flat mates" that didn't quite understand my culture. But now, I still talk to the kids almost everyday because they are pretty technology savvy. I actually just went and visited for the oldest sibling's birthday, and I still miss them. I plan on going back again next year sometime in the fall, ahem, excuse me, autumn.

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

I definitely stay in contact with the friends I made while abroad and the family I met. I learned so much academically and through life experiences.

The international awareness and relativity I have gained through this experience is ineffable. This experience will definitely prepare me for an even brighter future in any competition.
And on a personal level, I think I've grown so much and gotten stronger through this process that I know I can handle anything. If anyone ever doubts me or my abilities, I always stop and think: "have you moved to a foreign country and lived there completely on your own? No? Well, I have."