Name: Keara Sparks, Class of 2020
Program: King's College London, England, Spring 2019
Fields of Study: Sociology & Social Policy and Practice, Psychology Minor; Concentration in Peace Corps Prep
How did studying abroad affect your academic and/or professional career?
Studying abroad helped open my mind to the world outside my own backyard. It gave me the chance to experience the education system of another country and see ways in which we could improve our own. I also discovered that they used a different writing and citation style for their papers, which was something I had to adapt to. That would seem simple enough, but it’s an interesting process to change the way you’ve been taught to write since elementary school. I think studying abroad also gave me a clearer goal of what I’d like my future to become.
How did you explore your hobbies, interests, and passions abroad?
Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made. It was my first time leaving this continent and I was so nervous. But I got to explore a new city, see some of the most famous museums and museum pieces in the world (like the Rosetta Stone, for example). It also served as a jumping point to visit six other different countries (Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic) and I discovered a passion for adventure and travel I never knew I had. I was also able to meet some amazing new people and pursue my passions by joining organizations such as King’s Creative Writing Society, who’s weekly meetings became a highlight of my semester.
Why would you recommend your respective abroad program or location?
London is an amazing city that is filled with so many different cultures and so much history. The Asian Market of London, for example, is gorgeous and I had green tea ice cream for the first time there. Visiting the museums while I listened to some softer music created such an awe inspiring experience. England is also a great jumping point to visiting other countries. London is a prime location for studying abroad.
What should students consider when applying and preparing for their time abroad?
A very important thing I had to learn is to take your time exploring the city. You’re in this new culture and this new environment and it’s incredibly exciting! But it can also be very overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to take some days off to stay at your living situation. You’re going to be there for a few months; you don’t have to explore everyday. Pace yourself so you can have a great time the whole time!
Share a story about a time you experienced cultural immersion.
I was lucky enough to be able to work while studying abroad and I got a job in a sporting goods shop in Covent Garden, which is a very popular shopping area for people living or visiting London. Through this job, I got to meet so many interesting people from all over the world who came to us pursuing their passion of exercising and/or exploring in the great outdoors. Working in London was also probably to most immersive experience as you have to learn the location, the monetary system, local knowledge, brands, etc etc etc. Working in London helped me to become a temporary Londoner.