Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo

Sally Girouard

York St. John university, England


It is difficult to articulate just how incredible studying abroad is. All experiences of going away are very different. What they all have in common though, is the remarkable and lifelong rewards.  Just the idea of studying abroad itself seems amazing; the tangible experience greatly exceeds all expectations. Prior to taking off I believed I had a good idea of what was in store. Truth is — I had no clue. No matter the research or expectations, I ensure you that it will be more life changing than you could imagine. I have been in York, England for just over a month now and I could rant for hours about every little thing.

Coming abroad takes courage. I am such a nervous person and promised myself that I would force myself out of my comfort zone and just simply enjoy. What surprised me was how quickly it took me to feel completely comfortable and happy here. Yes, I am still adapting, that will continue, but that is all the fun.

My first night here I met a dozen students who welcomed me with such kindness. My favorite part of traveling is getting to know new people. Yes, studying abroad allows you to gain a new perspective and experience different culture but it’s so much more. Not only am I immersed in a new way of life but I am learning as well as teaching. Teachers, students, friends and strangers ask about life in the United States. They are fascinated by our world just like I am fascinated by this world. I have reversed stereotypes, put myths to rest and also confirmed the great things they have to say about my home. I have already developed a new awareness of my place in the world that I did not have before.

Every day here, whether I just go to class or hang out with friends around town, is subtly powerful. Studying abroad allows me to fully learn about culture compared to a vacation or visit. One of the funniest things is being here a month and catching myself using their lingo like it’s my own. My fellow Keene State friends and I have even caught ourselves using words like ‘posh,’ ‘fit,’ ‘peng,’ etc. [English slang] while we are not even among our English friends.

Many ask if I miss home and I do. It is a very strange feeling that friends and family are resuming life there and here I am living a completely new one.  I already have made so many memories and notice the change it has made in me. Yes, I have gotten lost, blown outlets trying to dry my hair, paid with the wrong amount of currency, asked what I’m sure was the stupidest question and so on — but it’s been so fun.

Being in England has also given me the opportunity to travel to many other countries. It is simply the most exciting aspect to me. Just last weekend I went to Dublin, Ireland and saw the Wicklow Mountains. I have never seen a more beautiful place in my life. That I will never forget — and that was only my first trip. Next weekend friends and I are going to Amsterdam. Also on the itinerary for November is Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy. To be honest, sometimes I cannot even believe those sentences are coming out of my mouth. No big deal — just headed to Italy for the weekend. It is one big, crazy dream. Everyday is a new experience that builds on my understanding.

I would not change studying abroad here in York, England for anything. I am looking forward for what the next two months have in store.

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