This summer was an incredibly formative experience for me. I took a look at the application I did for the program over winter break to get a sense of my goals and expectations for the trip. I gathered a few main goals from that application: get fully immersed in a foreign culture, step outside of what has been my comfort zone, contribute to my course of study and provide a contrast to the American-centered politics courses I have taken at W&L, gain first hand work experience contributing in a small and intimate workplace, and explore Europe and places I otherwise would not see.
Despite the shared language, England had a decisively different culture than I had become accustomed to in the States. Every day brought a new experience and the phrase ”cheers” will follow me back to Lexington. I had given little thought to studying abroad before the trip and now completely understand why everyone I talk to is so keen on it.
On the same note, and as our stories and “learning curve” demonstrate, there is something to be said for being almost purely independent in a foreign country (especially one as expensive as the U.K.). Many mistakes were made but I learned an awful lot from navigating the big city with my friends.
The contemporary British politics class with Dr. Blick certainly exceeded my expectations. I have a much more aware and informed sense of global politics and was struck by how different our systems of governing are. The timing could not be better with the Brexit and the issues that caused domestically and abroad.
Work-wise, I am glad I was not a soccer coach as I feared. I really did gain some invaluable work experience that I hope to translate to an internship next summer and I enjoyed my time at Let Me Play.
Lastly, the opportunity to visit Scotland twice and Budapest especially, were eye-opening experiences. While it is possible I return to these places in my adult life, it may not be in the cards and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do so this summer.
All in all I could not be happier with the summer I had. It is amazing how fast it all flew by. I did not include this in my goals, but the fellowship I have gained with new friends and old will stay with me for a lifetime.