Natalie studied in London on the Schreyer Honors College London Study Tour Embedded Program during Winter Break 2015/16.
What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at Penn State?
Though I was only in one city for my study abroad experience, the short time I spent there completely changed my world view. At Penn State, we are exposed to a variety of cultures through our peers, academic and extracurricular opportunities, and other experiences. However, being fully immersed in a new country truly gave me first-hand experience in learning about the ways our cultures can differ. The history of London is incredibly different – and much older – than that of the United States, and learning about this really helped me to understand the values and ways of working of London’s people.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experiences?
Take advantage of as many opportunities while abroad as you can! If you need to wake up early to see the sunrise over a new city, it’s going to be worth it. Spend as much time as possible exploring where you are – finding the small, hole-in-the-wall shops or cafes will allow you to experience this new culture in a very different way.
What was the transition like between class in the States and your destination abroad?
The transition between classes at PSU and classes abroad was very cohesive. My class size was small, so there weren’t any big changes to the way our instructor conducted class throughout the course despite our location change. Classes were discussion-based, so we were often able to have class at our housing units abroad, at restaurants, or while traveling as a group.
What is one thing you wish you had known before participating in an embedded program?
In hindsight, I would have spent much more time researching where I was going before the trip to know where I wanted to go once I got there – what museums to visit, landmarks to see, and things like that. Not a whole lot of planning was necessary for my trip, but it would have helped to have a “bucket list” of things I wanted to see before I went abroad to know exactly what I was going to do each day.
Why would you recommend an embedded program to other students?
Some majors at Penn State have more strict graduation requirements than others, making study abroad difficult to fit into a 4-year graduation plan. Participating in an embedded course allowed me to have a study abroad experience while still fulfilling my degree requirements to graduate in four years. Though my program was not a full semester, I was still able to become very familiar with the city of London, its culture, and people, and wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything else!