UMD: A Globally Connected University

Eliana Neuwirth

Eliana Neuwirth

Program: Freshmen Abroad: TTO: United Kingdom 
Term: Summerterm 2018
Major: Public Policy

Before deciding to go on the Terrapin Takeoff [program], I loved to travel, but London had never peaked my interest. I had wrongly thought that because both the US and UK speak English, then they must have relatively similar cultures. Terrapin Takeoff proved me wrong in the best way possible. I learned about the diversity that exists in London and fell in love with the city. It taught me to always seek more knowledge before making a judgement. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a public policy major, my advice is to take any and every opportunity you can get to learn about other cultures and perspectives. An important part of the learning experience of Terrapin Takeoff was asking questions. It was eye opening to see how people from different backgrounds responded to my questions and learn about how they thought their home country compared to the US. This type of learning can help turn PolicyTerps into global citizens who are more likely to be successful in the future.

My most memorable experience while abroad was seeing a show called “The Jungle” in London’s famous West End. It tells the story of refugees in a camp outside Calais trying to make it into the UK. Being that the play was based on true events, it was particularly moving. I learned so much about seeing refugees as hardworking, loving people like myself, unity, compassion, as well as important information about real-world issues regarding refugee crises.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad:  When most people think of study abroad, they assume it is a semester or even year long commitment, typically meant to learn another language. This discourages many people who already have a desire to travel from pursuing study abroad. I would inform that person that UMD offers short term options, such as during breaks, in addition to traditional long term study abroad programs. More importantly, studying abroad opens you up to hands on learning that can be applicable in any field. The EA programs offer a wide spectrum of classes and trip lengths so that there is something for everyone. 

Since the trip was only 10 days long, the schedule was compact. A typical day involved meeting in the lobby at 9:00 am and returning to our housing at 10:30 pm. We also had to make time for the reading and writing assignments. Our professor did a fantastic job organizing our days so that we could experience as much as possible, but it was a difficult to adjust to the fast pace. I began to stress about experiencing everything London had to offer in the short time that I had, while ensuring that I dedicated sufficient time and energy to the school work. It soon occurred to me that because I was worried about experiencing everything, I wasn’t being present in what I was doing at that moment. You can’t possibly cram everything into 10 days, but you can have an incredible 10 days with more to look forward to in the future.