By Olivia Stevens (Wellesley College, USA)
I can not believe it has been a year since I finished my time at Wellesley. It has flown by faster than I would ever have imagined. Before I had even started at Manchester I knew I wanted to study abroad. In fact, the huge range of places on offer was a large factor in my decision to come here. Having gone through the experience, and having time to reflect on it more, I can safely say that studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It may sound clichéd but it is so true!
Getting on a plane and going to a new country to live for six months where you don’t know the area or anyone else there is a pretty brave thing to do. Doing it has hugely increased my self-confidence and ability to adapt to new situations. I feel much more prepared to face the real word after graduation because of my time abroad. The opportunity to go travelling in Canada after my time at Wellesley had finished was also a brilliant experience and an excellent ending to my North American adventure!
Learning subjects in a different environment can also really change your perception of them. That is what happened to me. While I had studied Economics at Manchester, doing the subject at Wellesley really brought the subject to life for me. At Wellesley I was in a class of twenty-five, which was a huge change from the massive lectures of Manchester, where having over 300 students is not unusual. This change was great for me as it allowed me to really engage with the subject which helped me to cement that this is the area of study I want to pursue more in the future.
That doesn’t mean that everything about going away is good. It is hard to leave behind your friends and family for such a long period of time. However in this day and age, it is so easy to stay in contact with people, even if you are literally on the opposite side of the world! Also, when you finally do see them again, you will have so many amazing stories to tell them that the time you have spent apart will seem like nothing.
I was lucky enough to become a Global Guidance Ambassador when I returned back to Manchester and work with the International Programmes Office to help other students with their studying abroad processes. It has been a great job, though often it makes you want to go back and start the whole process again! In fact, I am planning on doing so and have started to look at Masters courses in Canada; something I would never have thought of doing before going away. Studying abroad has expanded my horizons beyond the shores of the UK and given me an international outlook on life, another thing I am grateful for.
I would recommend studying abroad to anyone and wherever you end up, you are sure to have a life-changing time. You will meet amazing people, study fascinating topics and discover wonderful new places. I certainly did!