Everyone Should Study Abroad

“Everyone should study abroad.” I’d heard this from countless people before embarking on my trip to London. After this once in a lifetime opportunity, I must say I agree with the sentiment. Study Abroad is 100% better than just taking the money and going to whatever city you want to go to. Study Abroad gave me the opportunity to live in a true Londoner’s house, made a schedule for our group, used our student status to our advantage, and allowed me to make connections from what I was seeing to my learning.

Being able to stay in a home stay was a huge benefit for me. For one thing, it is definitely cheaper than staying in a hotel, and much less creepy than staying in a hostel. The best part of a home stay is that I was able to ingratiate myself further into London’s culture. I learned a lot from my host family, and ate breakfast, walked to the tube station, and went to bed in a true London fashion.

Study Abroad also comes with a built-in schedule. CAPA tailor made a schedule to fit our needs, and ensured that we got student discounts and add-ons whenever possible. Without CAPA helping us, I doubt we would have been able to go to half the museums and events we planned.

Finally, Study Abroad enabled us to make connections between what we did to what we were learning. Studies have shown that hands-on learning is the best way to retain knowledge, and I definitely agree with the sentiment. This trip was a three week hands-on learning experience. I remember much more about Charles Dickens and WWII because I was able to go to museums and see how Londoners respond to these things. It also created a connection that ran through our events. I think I am better able to remember what I did because I could connect it to my studies, rather than just saying I went to a bunch of museums or plays.

If you are someone who is considering studying abroad, please DO IT. If you are a UML employee thinking about authorizing a study abroad trip, please AUTHORIZE IT. If you are just a random person reading this blog, thanks for reading! Whatever the case may be, I am truly thankful for this amazing Study Abroad opportunity. I’ve made great friends, got to be a part of London’s culture (we started fitting in so well that on the last day someone on the street asked us for directions!), and have so many stories to tell my grandkids.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: LONG LIVE THE QUEEN.

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Connecting — the value of studying abroad

Literature majors are always reading. We are assigned a book, a short story, or a play, and we dive in hoping to unlock the secrets to the universe …  or at least get a decent grade. We develop a mental picture as we read, and we might even read a little background quip about the writer. But, when the opportunity avails itself to step into the world of the writer – to see where they lived, to walk the streets they walked, and to really learn their history – it unlocks a whole new dimension in our understanding of a given writer or piece.

While we were in London and were taking a walk through Dickens’s old neighborhood and we learned just how much of his surroundings he used in his various works, it honestly made his characters and his novels come to life that much more. Suddenly Dickens wasn’t just this famous author from long ago; instead, he was fleshed out and he became more real as a person, and as a writer. Being there enhanced my understanding of subjects and brought additional dimension to the literary picture.

On a personal level, as an online/distance learner, studying abroad allowed me to connect with the university more, as well as the other students in the program. I found it to be a very rewarding and enriching experience.

Why study abroad?

Why study abroad? Being my choice, the first intuition tells me that it will be more interesting. Of course, it will be more tired than merely traveling. You will have studying schedule and working schedule every day when you are abroad. But I like this way rather than just traveling with seeing. It did work as I imagined, or I should say that it better worked than what I expected. As a science student, I did not get in touch with literature too much. Unsurprisingly, I do not pay attention to the function of literature. I like traveling and enjoy seeing different places. The experience says the way I learn a new place is by mainly by eating and taking pictures. I am often shocked by the beautiful views in different places. But after a few days back home, I forgot what felt. Studying abroad gives a new way to know a new city or a country. I enjoyed it so much. From the literature side, we discovered London’s history, culture, changing and famous historical and modern people. I know London from a deep level, which makes me never forget. Everything I saw is given meanings. I saw them and understood them. Even without taking pictures, the view, the artifacts and the magnificent buildings were in my mind. I can still remember every feeling I had at every moment in different activities. Moreover, the elaborate and comprehensive schedule of class was the best of the best. I definitely saw more and learned more than I traveled along or traveled with agency. Traveling with studying is a great idea for people who want to learn more. Besides, the friendship built in the class can never be a better thing you can have in studying. One old saying: you can always find your true love in an unknown place. Traveling and studying together in a new country is the best way to find your best classmates. Let’s be classmates and friends abroad.                  10550066_656894271073614_6310315863816451014_o

Why Study Abroad?

Why study abroad? At first, I had several different answers run through my head, a compilation of everything I had learned on this trip. There were so many experiences we had, so many museums and performances attended. But for me, the most important part about this trip was not the academic knowledge that I took away from it – although of course that is quite important. No, this trip made me so much more aware of who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having been given the opportunity to explore that.

Before I came on this trip, there were some unwavering things I knew about myself. For starters, I love books (as you can tell from earlier posts). I was confident, though not by a considerable amount. I enjoy learning in any atmosphere, and I was at a point in my academic career where I was ready to delve further into the things I loved. So yes, I knew who I was, but nowhere near as well as I do now. When you’re taken away from your comfort zone for the first time, it can be a huge shock. You may have guided help, true, but for the most part you really begin to wonder who you are. Are you going to ask a stranger for directions? Will you try whatever the national food is, even if you’re not sure what it consists of? Which surroundings and experiences strike you the most? These questions, and many others, were ones I found myself confronting on this trip.

The first few days were difficult. We were still mentally stuck in a different time zone, and we found ourselves traveling London in a daze. But even then, I found myself branching out little by little. On our first day, I tried raw fish for the first time, and not long after that, I bravely attempted the heights on the London Eye. Neither one of these events would have ever happened in the comforts of my own home, where I feel the most safe. Studying abroad brings out traits in you that you never knew you had, the bravery to conquer fears, the strength to pull your deepest emotions from you. It allows you to feel connections to the things that appeal most to you, to be unafraid of who you are. It’s an experience I’m never going to forget, and I know that I’m going to use the amazing perspectives I gained on this trip for the rest of my life.

Below is a photo of Diana, Mei,and I at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral – and all three of us are afraid of heights. It just goes to show that you never know what you are truly capable of.

london photo

Why Study Abroad?

When asked why people should study abroad I can’t think of just one reason. There are so many reasons to study abroad. In my short time in London I made friends I will never forget and created memories that will last me a lifetime. There is more to studying abroad than just the studying. While I learned so much when it came to the class matter, I also learned a lot about myself.

I always knew I was an independent person, but this trip helped me learn just how independent I am. Being able to get around a foreign city, and take side trips to Paris, is really something. In three weeks we went from staring at maps and not being able to find the tube station to only looking up which stop to get off at before figuring out directions as we went.

Being outside of a classroom is such a different experience. Seeing the things that you’re discussing and exploring the places you’ve read about give you a different sense of understanding. We read a book by Charles Dickens and then got to see the places that inspired him. Walking around and exploring London during free time with friends helped us all to learn about the way other people live and how that has affected the literature we read. Studying abroad has broadened my knowledge in so many ways and I think that everyone should go somewhere if they have the opportunity.

Why Study Abroad?

all the girls in paris

I write this final blog post from my room in Massachusetts. In the past 24 hours, I have traveled half way around the world to go home. While I miss England, it does feel nice to be back. I no longer have to worry about currency exchange rates or which side of the road to drive on. Everything at home is pretty much the same, except for me.

Studying abroad in England has helped me become a better Maddie. My whole life, I have been a worrier. I plan every day ahead of time, even months before sometimes. I can honestly say that I never knew what I was doing on this trip, and I felt happier for it. We had a busy schedule,but I found myself enjoying everything I was doing so much that I never thought about what we were doing next.

I saw a bumper sticker before I left for the trip that said, “Wherever you are, be there fully.” I think I finally managed to accomplish that on this trip. Not only did I make very close friends, I got to learn about England in a way that I never would have traveling on my own.

I learned about Parliament, more about the country’s past, saw famous works of art and museums. I learned that I like Iraqi food and Indian food. I learned that Churchill had secret war rooms during the Blitz. But most importantly, I learned that there are parts of me scattered in cities I have never been to, and the best way for me to become a whole person is to continue my travels.

Study abroad is a life changing experience and I recommend it to everyone.

Passport to Paris

Over the weekend, Amanda, Maddie, Chelsea, and I went to Paris together! I’ve been to the city for a few days before on my trip in high school, but this excursion was so much different, and so much better.

Being in London for three weeks has certainly taught us how to find our way around a city, and, perhaps more importantly, find our way around a subway system. Paris was beautiful, and the food was AMAZING. We were able to have a picnic-style meal by the Eiffel Tower, and then watch as it lit up as the night got darker. I also ate my weight in crepes. Hey, Paris isn’t somewhere I am going to go every day, so I need to eat all the banana nutella crepes I can get my hands on.

Although my weekend in Paris was wonderful, it made me appreciate London more. Part of it was definitely the language barrier. A lot of signs and announcements were translated into English, and most people spoke at least some English, but only knowing about five French phrases made getting around much more challenging. Paris is really a romantic and beautiful city, but London is somewhere I can see myself exploring for much longer. Even after three jam-packed weeks, there is still more I feel like I want to see. I also missed the culture of London. Everything seems more orderly here. The tube system makes more sense than Paris’s Metro, the city is cleaner, and, surprisingly, the fashion is better. Paris is perfect for a weekend getaway, but London is somewhere I could actually see myself living for quite a while.

I’m really sad to be packing up tonight. I honestly wish I had chosen to study for a full semester here. I got to see so much, but I feel like I needed more time to explore the culture more. I would recommend studying in London to any student, and I would  recommend jet-setting to Paris for the weekend to students in London as well!

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better me

I love art. Although I do not have much creativity on art, I do get a lot of happiness from the works of art. Yesterday I went to National Portrait Gallery. And today we went to Tate Britain. I enjoyed the portraits and paintings too much. Actually, I like Tate Modern more. I prefer the art with more imagination and abstract thinking. I cannot understand Picasso’s painting without reading the illustration, but I admire his creativity and out of circle thinking. After London Literature class, I am kind of fascinated with symbolism. I would like to find more secrets behind every work, every period, and every style. Art, like writing, is a way of the authors to express their understandings. Art, as another way, is used as photography to record the history, which I strongly felt from the historical paintings in National Portrait Gallery. At first, I did not like the Portrait painting too much. Every painting seems similar, just showing the dedicated dressing royal family. However, after following the arranged chronologically display, from the Tudors 1485-1603, the Stuarts 1603-1714, Rebellion to reform 1714-1790, Late 18th to early 19th century, the Victorians 1837-1901, early 20th century, to late 20th century, I not only knew more about the England history, holding a whole concept of the timeline, but also through approached the famous persons to understand the significance of each period. As well, the careful and abortive paintings characterized every famous people- queen or king, politicians or drawers. When I saw the picture of Charles Dickens, I was so happy, like I saw my old friend among the hundreds of famous people. You can see how deeply the class influenced me.

Today I found a new my favorite person-Waterhouse. I do not know him at all before I went to Tate Britain this morning. I was attracted at first sight of this painting which I posted as the last picture. The name of the painting is Carnation, lily, lily, rose. It was drawn by Waterhouse in 1885. I do not know how to describe my feeling about this painting. I feel it is combined reality with imagination. The color is very transparent and bright. I can also feel pure and peaceful inside the picture. I believe it is the reason I like this painting immediately. In fact, every painting of Waterhouse has the same style- every refined drawing and unique constructed.

Today is also the last day of our class. It makes me think a little more. I told everyone that my eyes are hungry and I want to see more in London. I did not think the reason why I want to get more information before writing this blog. Like visiting museums and galleries, like traveling and studying, all the experiences make you more individualism. We know we enrich ourselves through seeing different things. We can also get more personal thinking from different perspectives. Literature and Art, from the abstract side, let us know more about ourselves. I am improving my realizing of new things. We can discover more about ourselves and understand what we want through getting more information. psbCA2PVFWNpsbCAH1VQFTpsbCAPWPX70

World Travelers

Our time here in London has flown by and our plans for a weekend in Paris came up much sooner than I had expected. We had 48 hours to see Paris, and I think we accomplished a good amount. As successful tube riders in London we got ourselves to Heathrow Airport with ease. Security felt like a breeze and all of a sudden we were waiting to board a plane to Paris

After making it to the hotel, via taxi of course, we came across a small grocery store and made ourselves a rather late dinner. We slept in, but only until 10:30, and then took the day by storm. With amazing weather we walked all across Paris, hardly ever using a map. We started at Notre Dame, one of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever seen, and ended the day at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower.

The love lock bridge was second on our list of stops. It’s an amazing site and I think that everyone should see it in person. The Louvre is another place that will never cease to disappoint. I could go back another five times and still not see everything, though I did see the Mona Lisa! I sipped my cappuchino while we casually strolled through the parks heading off towards more things to see. We all ate our way through the city, and I managed to try Nutella for the first time. With all the crepes I’ve consumed I think I might turn into one, but it was well worth it! I’ve also been telling myself that we walked them all off after being gone from noon time until about ten thirty Saturday night.

Even though we relaxed a bit on Sunday and found a restaurant for breakfast I had such a great weekend. It went by so fast! As we boarded the plane back to London I realized that I flew from London to Paris in the time it takes me to drive from my house to Lowell. That forty-five minute plane ride brought me memories to last a lifetime.


We’ll always have Paris

Eiffel Tower

My friends and I frantically packed our backpacks on Friday as we prepared for our weekend trip to Paris. We took the Tube all the way to Heathrow Airport (now that we are seasoned underground navigators. The flight was relatively short, lasting only about an hour. It takes me more time to get to my summer home in New Hampshire than it does to get from England to France!

After we departed the airport, hilarity ensued  as our taxi driver, James (pronounced Jham in French),  persuaded us to sing along to an Alicia Keys’ song. After he dropped us off at the hotel and we unpacked, we explored the area of Vincennes a little bit.

The nice thing about staying in a city outside of Paris was that we got to immerse ourselves more in the French culture. We got our dinner from a family-owned shop and ate a festive meal of smelly cheese and bread back in our hotel. It rained all night, but cleared up for the morning.

Saturday was our day to explore Paris. I have never felt more content than I did having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. We did not even need a map to get around Paris. Every place we wanted to see was within walking distance and was visible in the skyline. In 11 hours, we visited the Louvre, Notre Dame, the “lock” bridge, the Arc de Triomph, and the Eiffel Tower. It was amazing how much we accomplished in one day.

I am back in England now and I still cannot believe that I was just in Paris. It feels too surreal. I have accomplished so many of my life dreams in such a short amount of time.

I was sad to leave, but as our plane departed from Charles de Gaulle airport today, I looked out the window and thought to myself, “We will always have Paris.”