UMD: A Globally Connected University

Mitch Cooney

Program: BMGT Exchange: Cass Business School, City University (United Kingdom)​
Term: Spring 2018
Major: Finance & Information Systems

Studying abroad forced me to shift out of my comfortable life in America and enabled me to broaden my global mindset. After arriving in Europe, it quickly became apparent that the people and the culture were just different. When I would leave London on weekend trips, I would also leave the familiarity of the English language. Taking that huge step out of my comfort zone was difficult at times and it would force me to attempt to talk to complete strangers. That experience of attempting to converse in a foreign language is tough and a bit humiliating, but it helped me gain a confidence in myself and a love and deep appreciation for the new cultures around me. Stepping out of familiarity into the unknown completely broadened my worldview and that knowledge gained is priceless. 

Advice for #TerpsAbroad: Go somewhere. Go anywhere. I am a firm believer that people should take any chance to stretch their mind and expand their worldview during our college careers and our lives in general . When I went to study abroad in a foreign country, I quickly shifted out of my comfortable life in College Park, for the first time, and took on the role of an active visitor, learner, and traveler. Across the pond in Europe, there is an energetic world full of different cultures, languages, and people that are yearning to be explored. [On a weekly basis], I immersed myself in different countries, cities, and boroughs and was able to gain numerous amazing experiences and to met incredible individuals along the way. Whether you are hearing about the UMD study abroad program for the first time or are on the fence about shipping overseas, I urge you to pack a suitcase (or two) and embark on an experience of a lifetime. Go meet new people, stretch your mind and comfort zone, and broaden your worldview. ​

Sorting through my thoughts about my memories abroad, I am realizing how incredibly fortunate and lucky I am to have embarked on this indescribable experience. Arriving in London with two suitcases in my hands and my backpack on my back, I had no idea what was in store for the spring semester. Over the next three and half months, I found myself wandering the canals of Amsterdam through a light snow; staring awestruck overhead at the Sistine Chapel in the Holy Vatican City; touring Westminster Abbey and observing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet for my Historic London and Performing Arts classes; biking aimlessly through the gorgeous Gardens of Versailles; and waving goodbye to my London friends at the London Bridge tube stop. Taking the semester to learn abroad at Cass Business School, to live life with many new friends, and to dive into foreign cultures all over Europe are the memories I will never forget. 

One of the hardest difficulties to cope with is the time difference. In London, being 5 hours ahead of life in College Park really is not that bad, but it still makes it difficult to communicate with people at home. Whether it’s your family, a loved one, or your friends, it definitely can become tough and can make you feel isolated and lonely if you stay in your own bubble while abroad. However, I found that the remedy to this problem is to open your eyes to your new country and seek out friends. Abroad, especially for a semester, is too short of a time to waste. I urge you to look to meet new people and enjoy the culture at hand. Trust me, your friends and family will wait for you and I guarantee you can reach them if you really need to, but set your iPhone down for a bit and sink in the remarkable experience. Also, not being able to watch my Terps in the B1G Tourney during March Madness was a struggle too.