Maurice Paquette - 2013 Program Participant

Maurice “Moe” spent the fall of his junior year studying abroad in London with API. His experience of deciding to go abroad is an exemplar of the fact that it is possible for science majors to make study abroad happen. He’s even thinking about going abroad with API again in the future, this time to volunteer!

Moe enjoying one of many football games while abroad! England vs. Montenegero at Wembley Stadium in London.
Moe enjoying one of many “football” games while abroad! England vs. Montenegero at Wembley Stadium in London.

How did you arrive at the decision to study abroad?

Entering the second semester of my sophomore year I didn't have any intention of studying abroad. I was happy at Saint Michael's, had a good job, and was a biology major which seemingly made studying abroad "more difficult" (not the truth in the slightest). A close friend of mine asked me to give him one reason why I wasn't going to study abroad, and I couldn't - I was ahead in classes, and had always wanted to travel. Although I was extremely nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone, I realized it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that I had to take. I quickly finished my application and submitted it to API, and was thankfully accepted to the University College of London for the fall of 2013.

Why London?

Selecting London as my city had both academic and personal reasons. Academically, I needed to go to an English speaking country, as a I had no significant experience in foreign language and needed to take labs to fulfill my biology requirements back home. Personally, I had always dreamed of traveling to Europe, specifically London. As a passionate football fan (or soccer on this side of the pond), there are few places better in the world to experience football then London. 

Out of all the available programs, what made you decide on API specifically?

Coming to the study abroad game late, I had many questions for providers that needed to be answered quickly. The staff at API answered all of my questions, and made me feel comfortable in asking everything; they handled my parents’ questions quickly and confidently, and made both of us feel that I was in good hands (which I was). Within a few days of contacting API, I felt that I was part of their family and that they wanted the best for both me and my study abroad experience.

What was you living situation in London like?

My housing arrangements in London were amazing! I lived in a co-ed flat of five; three girls who shared a triple, and my roommate and I who shared a double. Our flat had two bathrooms, as well as a furnished living room, dining area, and kitchen. Quickly it began to feel like home. Not only was the flat itself great, but the location could not have been any better. I was a 15 minute walk from UCL, a two minute walk from the nearest tube station, and centrally located in the heart of London.

Walk us through a typical day as a student abroad in London.

My days started a little later than my usual schedule in the United States, as the first classes at UCL were after 9:30 a.m. I would stop on my walk to class at a local coffee shop, one of the few with American coffee, before continuing to my morning classes. Most days I had class for about two hours (some were longer, depending on if I had lab or not), that were in a variety of different styles. One of my classes was a large lecture of close to 250 students, one was smaller lecture with 40 students, and the final two were seminars with 10 and 25 students respectively.

After finishing class, I would grab a quick lunch from a local shop, before heading to the beautiful UCL library to do required reading and studying. Usually finished by 4:00 p.m., I would head to meet up with friends and explore the city! We would take the tube to a part of the city we had never been to and walk around, we would go read in one of the many beautiful parks, or we would go to one of the numerous historical landmarks. My favorite thing was pick-up soccer which I played twice a week with locals. The day would finish with a homemade dinner.

What was the most memorable experience you had in London with API?

Our first Sunday in London was scheduled with a walking tour of the city and a "Sunday Roast", led by our absolutely phenomenal regional director Rachel. After a long day of walking the city (we did almost eight miles), Rachel brought us to her favorite pub in London. Rachel explained to us the tradition of Sunday Roast, before we indulged in, by far, my best meal while in London.

I'm not sure if it was the long walk (in a slight London drizzle of rain of course), or warm feel that Rachel gave us, but for the first time I realized, “Wow! I am living in London, and this will be my life for the next three months." Looking around the table, I realized that we (our group from API), had gone from a bunch of individual, homesick study abroad students, to a family of students living in London, ready to conquer the city, the country, and Europe. I contribute much of the family feel during not only that meal, but my whole study abroad experience to Rachel and the rest of the API staff who made London feel like a home, and them my family.

What important tips can you give to incoming students studying abroad in London?

All the butterflies and nervous feelings you have...everyone else is feeling them too! Don't be shy, and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and try something new! Get out and experience the city of your choice. Call it home, then make it home. Before you know it, you will be headed back to the United States.

If you could go on another API Program in the future, which one would you choose?

API has a lot of great programs, one of which I would love to become a part of in the future. The API Cultural Embrace program sends students abroad to do things such as volunteer and work, and it’s a program I am actually looking into upon graduation. Community service has always been a part of me, and I would love to continue the work abroad upon graduation.