UMD: A Globally Connected University

Serena Saunders

Serena Saunders

Program: UMD-Spring Break: United Kingdom (HIST/HONR)
Term: Spring Break 2018
Major: Public Policy 

Studying abroad during spring break in London was really a whirlwind of an experience! Because we only had about 9 days, every experience was designed by our professor to be both memorable and eye-opening. I learned more about London's place as the center of the British Empire than I ever could have imagined because I was there, where important things happened. For example, touring Samuel Johnson's home, where he wrote the first comprehensive modern English dictionary, was a completely different experience than learning from a textbook about how he painstakingly chose quotes for each word. I was able to make new friends with people from all across campus, and I still cherish some of the memories we made together around London. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a woman of color, I would definitely recommend being open-minded when abroad! There were a few experiences on my trip where discussions around British colonialism could have been heated, but we all tried to calmly understand each others' perspectives and we actually learned from each other. As a Public Policy major, I would say that thinking about the history, culture, etc. of your study abroad location in real-time gives you much more perspective on the policies of today. Being able to interact with locals and gather their opinions on policies that might be unrecognizable or complicated to us as foreigners was really enlightening for me.

My most memorable experience while abroad was seeing Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre with my class. My professor pointed out that no trip to London is complete without seeing a Shakespeare play, so he bought us tickets right in the standing pit. Being truly enveloped in the sounds and sights of a modernized Rome was absolutely amazing and an experience I'll never forget. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: You will get to know and love the other students on your [program] a lot faster than you would think. By the end of the first day in London, our group was already very tight-knit, we all looked out for each other, and we all made plans outside of the mandatory class activities.

I think the hardest part for me, personally, was adjusting to the hours of the class! Because we were on a very compressed schedule, we had to wake up at the crack of dawn and we were only able to sleep after about 9 pm on most days--trying to fit in food, fun and new friends around that was difficult, but prioritizing having a great experience over getting more sleep was key. 

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