Dialogue with: Three Students, Three Study Abroad Destinations
Three students discuss their experiences in London, Greece and Jamaica
So you want to study abroad? Great! Studying abroad can easily be one of the most valuable experiences you can have. I did it twice and it was the greatest year of my life. While being abroad is great, figuring out THE place to go can be daunting. The list of places to go can seem endless, but talking to people who have studied abroad before can be helpful in narrowing down choices. Don’t know anyone who studied abroad? Don’t worry! I interviewed three of my friends who studied abroad in three different places to see how they felt about their experiences after returning home. Andres Castillo went to London last fall, Jamari Hysaw went to Kingston, Jamaica last spring and Cynthia Kumar went to Athens, Greece this past summer. Maybe their answers will help you find your study abroad destination!
1. Why did you choose this study abroad location? What are the top 5 sites to see?
Andres: London is a city that is accessible to any American and it was a delicate balance between something familiar and something new. I like to visit attractions off the beaten path so my top 5 sites to see in London are: (1) West Ham football game at Upton Park, (2) Oxford Street, (3) Soane Museum, (4) Greenwich Park, and (5) Chiswick House Grounds.
Jamari: I’m an English Literature and Caribbean Studies double major, so Kingston was an excellent opportunity for me. I traveled around Jamaica quite a bit so my top 5 sites are all over the island: (1) Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios, (2) Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, (3) Fort Clarence Beach in Kingston, (4) National Gallery of Jamaica, and (5) Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
Cynthia: Greece was not my first choice of programs, but I learned a lot and I do not regret the decision at all. My top 5 sites are: (1) the Parthenon/the Acropolis, (2) the Agora, (3) the Temple at Delphi, (4) the Temple/Stadium in Olympia, and (5) the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
2. How did you live like a local in your study abroad city?
Andres: I wasn’t shy about leaving my study group classmates to find new experiences.
Jamari: I lived on campus in a dorm so it was easy for me to live like a local. I made friends with other students who lived on campus and I attended many on campus events. I also ate lots of Jamaican food instead of eating at American chain restaurants.
Cynthia: I used the metro! Instead of visiting Mykonos and Santorini, I visited islands that are frequented by Greek people instead of tourists.
3. What was the most amazing cultural experience you encountered while studying abroad?
Andres: English football games!
Jamari: While we were learning about Jamaican music, we had the chance to go a music studio where famous Jamaican artists recorded music. It was really fun!
Cynthia: All of the sites in general were an amazing cultural experience. Greece has an extraordinarily rich history and the country itself is rooted in its pride of it. They cherish and value their history immensely and going to the sites actually helped us see how much Greek history is still a major part of Greek culture today. Also, the Greek food was a great way to really see Greece too. The Greek people really love to eat and we really got to meet some phenomenal people that way!
4. How has this Study Abroad impacted on your personal growth?
Andres: The ability to adapt to different places and experiences is instrumental to one’s personal growth. In life you will have to meet people with different perspectives that come from faraway places. Studying abroad helps one to build their toolkit for that.
Jamari: Going to Jamaica allowed me to think globally and from different perspectives. That is s not something I think you can learn in a classroom.
Cynthia: Studying the Classics in general has really helped my understanding of my English major. Seeing and experiencing these sites also gave me more background on the major 16th and 17th century works I’ve been studying essentially for the past 3 years.
5. What advice/tips would you give to yourself before you went abroad?
Andres: Take the Tube less, walk more.
Jamari: Don’t spend so much time talking to your friends back home! It’s easy to get homesick and miss out on great opportunities where you are!
Cynthia: Bring Euros and multiple converters. Don’t just get comfortable in your Study Group and only hang out with them. Be safe and responsible, but actually go out, explore, and meet other people; you can’t get the full experience without meeting people who actually live in the area. Also, eat everything you can because Baklava, REAL gyros, and fried cheese are simply not this good anywhere else; this is not the moment to care about your weight.