Trish McDonnell - 2014 Program Participant
The Colosseum in Rome Italy
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Studying abroad was always something I wanted to do. During my college orientation I remember raising my hand and the first and only question I asked was, “Can I study abroad if I study this major?” My dad traveled a lot when I was young. Seeing him come back from each of international destinations sparked a curiosity. What else was there to see of the world and what could I learn from traveling and meeting so many different types of people?
What made you want to study in England? Why did you choose London as opposed to other cities?
When selecting a city to study in I brainstormed many different options. Italy was definitely very appealing to me, but I think I ultimately chose London for a few reasons. I was born in New York and moved to Arizona as a toddler. I always wondered what it would be like to live in a diverse, metropolitan city like New York City. I thought maybe when I graduated college I would live in Manhattan for a period of time, but as I got older I realized this was unlikely to happen. London became a new opportunity to live in a city with variety of different cultural influences. I was actually really shocked how diverse the population there is. I would say I met just as many foreigners who had moved to London as I did locals.
Why did you select CEA Study Abroad over other organizations?
I had heard countless positive stories from students who had studied abroad through CEA Study Abroad. After doing some research for myself, I found CEA to be the most helpful and informative of all the programs I looked into. Studying in another country, dealing with foreign education systems, and sorting out living abroad is overwhelming. I found that CEA Study Abroad was there for me every step of the way. I had someone I could call and speak to who would give the information, guidance, or advice I needed to not only answer my questions, but also make me feel comfortable and confident with every decision I was making.
Walking across the famous Abbey Road
What was a normal day like as as an international student in London?
On a typical school day abroad I would wake up and go to class. I lived on my campus, so it was always a quick and easy walk over to my classes. Something I really enjoyed about my classes at The University of Westminster was the cultural diversity within each class. We were able to have discussion about the day’s topic from a variety of viewpoints. It made class extremely interesting and exciting to go to.
I usually finished class by lunch. Sometimes I would go into the center of the city and explore a neighborhood I had not been to yet, or if it was a nice day, sit out on the grass in Kensington Gardens with friends. London also has a lot of outdoor markets. Borough and Camden Markets are were two of my favorites and most frequented!
What was the most memorable experience you had during your time abroad?
It’s extremely hard to narrow down the most memorable experience I had while abroad. I traveled to over a dozen different cities while still making a real connection to London. Despite all my travels, I think one of the most rewarding experiences I had while abroad was in my host city. I was walking down the street by myself and was stopped by a tourist who asked me directions; I, a visitor myself, was able to tell them step-by-step directions how to get to their destination. It really made me feel like I was at home in this city. I had explored London, walked its streets daily, and had become familiar with it. It really made me feel even more connected to London, the lively city I came to love.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland
Why would you go back to London if you had the chance?
Even though I was abroad for six months, I still had a lot of things on my to do list that I didn’t get a chance to check off. There are many cities I wanted to go to but didn’t have the chance to visit. In London alone, there are even places that I didn’t get a chance to explore. My friend Emily, whom I met abroad in London, and I started a list almost as soon as we got back from London of all the things that we need to do when we go back to Europe. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll pick back up on our European adventures and cross a few more experiences off our bucket lists.
Why would you recommend CEA Study Abroad to other students contemplating study abroad? What made your program special?
As I said above, CEA Study Abroad really goes above and beyond to make sure the students that are part of their program are completely supported. I felt and still feel like I am part of a community. Pre-departure, I always felt I had the support of a CEA Coordinator to fall back on if I had any questions. This support went even further when I arrived in London and met my onsite CEA Program Director, Cassandra. I knew if I needed anything while in London I could count on Cassandra to be there for me, day or night. Additionally, I really enjoyed the fact that CEA Study Abroad is at campuses nationwide. I was able to meet students from across the country, from New York to Chicago to Washington; It gave me a chance to meet people outside of my home university.
If you could change one thing about your experiences in London what would it be?
While I loved everything about my program, I really wish I took advantage of the internship opportunities that CEA Study Abroad features. A few of my CEA friends were taking classes a few days a week and working at internships on their off days. I’m really interested in the music industry, a thriving business in London; I think it would have been a great opportunity to take advantage of while studying there.