My seven weeks in London have been a fantastic experience, filled with many great memories. Going into the program, I was excited to learn about a new culture and its political scene, get professional work experience abroad, and to travel Europe, but my weeks in Europe surpassed my expectations greatly. When I first arrived at Bedford Place, I only knew a handful of the other W&L students on the trip and was in a major international city. There was definitely a learning curve to get acclimated with my new environment, but the experience was priceless. I got so much more out of my time abroad that I had ever anticipated.
One of the most exciting things about London was obviously the Brexit. Our Contemporary British Politics Class gave us an understanding of what was occurring throughout the United Kingdom, but I learned so much additional information about the situation by speaking with my coworkers on their perspective of the current political landscape in the commonwealth. I found the immediate economic effect of Brexit fascinating, and continued to see the implications of the UK leaving the EU as I traveled throughout Europe the rest of the summer. Brexit has definitely encouraged me to become more involved in the global political scene, as I have realized how American politics are greatly impacted by other international political events.
Furthermore, my work experience with Business Launchpad was a fun contrast to my previous work experiences. BLP’s nature was casual and decentralized, with an entrepreneurial spirit. I had the opportunity to speak to employees in different business fields, such as accounting, consulting, fundraising, and marketing, as well as doing work with their finance manager. I had great exposure to generic business principles, as well as specific accounting and finance topics that I will be using in my internship next summer. Over my time at BLP, I saw my understanding of the company’s business model grow and this coincided with more complex project assignments. I appreciated the great breadth of projects I got to work on, but I also enjoyed the friendly atmosphere that I encountered on a daily basis. My coworkers were always interested in hearing about my experiences both inside and outside of the office.
Lastly, my time in Europe was filled with tons of travelling, meeting new people, and attending cultural events. I think it’s safe to say there was never a dull moment for me while I was overseas. I travelled to four countries and visited 6 major cities in these countries on free weekends during the program. It was challenging to plan these trips, but I am so glad I got out to explore Europe. We participated in a wide range of activities from local pub crawls in London, to a music festival, to the world famous tennis tournament Wimbledon. I got to know the people on our program very well through these trips and it was a blast. The field trips to cathedrals, museums, and parliament were also great chances to see the historic aspects of English culture.
In conclusion, my time in Europe far surpassed my expectations, as I learned about many other cultures and I had the time of my life. Having spent my entire life in Maryland and Virginia, the opportunity to live in a different continent for an extended period of time was an eye-opening and refreshing experience.