Hi everyone! I’m so excited today because we have a really great post!
Have to admit, I’m pretty jealous of her right now; Scotland has always been a dream of mine. . . . purple heather, dashing kilts, ivy-covered castles. . . Sorry, got carried away for a minute!
Anyway, after reading the amazingly in-depth and inspirational posts she has shared about her trip on her blog, I asked if she would be willing to answer a few questions about her study abroad experience. Because she is wonderful, awesome, and all things good, she agreed! Not only that, she offered some really great insight into what goes on with the Study Abroad Process and the motives of those who make the decision to go for it. So read on and see what you too can learn from her adventures!
Also, please don’t forget to check out her blog “CHEERS” for more information about her trip abroad! Definitely worth the read!
Where are you in Your Education? (Sophomore, Junior, Etc.–Highschool/College)
Genny: “I am a Junior or Third Year as they call it here!”
What have you decided to/are you interested in studying?
Genny: “I am studying Public Relations—that’s my major—and Non-Profit Management is my minor! My major interest is studying Non-Profits and subjects related to social justice.”
Why did you decided to study abroad; what sort of things did you consider?
Genny: “I knew that I wanted to study abroad during college from the age of about 12. Traveling the world has always been a dream and a priority for me. I love the idea of going to a place where I know no one, where anything can happen. Though, I should say that that concept terrifies me as equally as it excites me! When considering when and where to study, a few things came to mind. I wanted to study in the spring so I didn’t have to miss my home university’s football season…nothing is better than college football season! Also, I didn’t particularly want to go abroad my senior year because I wanted to be able to spend my last year in the place I have to call home with my best friends. I also had to consider, of course, where I wanted to study but I’ll answer that question in #5 :)”
What program did you participate in, where did you go, and how long did it last?
Genny: “I am currently participating in the ISEP program at Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am only here for a semester or, as it is known here, Trimester 2, which in hindsight is far to short of a stay.”
How did you pick this program; what made it stand out above the rest?
Genny: “Well, I knew that I wanted to do a program that my home university had a direct exchange with because it made it so much cheaper. This means that I would paying the exact same price as Appalachian State with the only additional fees being my flight, food and all the souvenirs that I told myself I wouldn’t buy that I am…My university had direct exchange at a few places but no where I really had a huge desire to go. My top two places were somewhere in the UK and/or near Europe and South Africa. I had to study in a place that spoke English or mostly English since the only other language I speak is French and that is only because I took a few courses back in high school. Needless to say, je ne sais pas very much Francais. I didn’t really want to study in England, however, because I knew so many people that had and I hate doing the “typical thing.” You could argue that studying in the UK or Europe at all is typical but hey, there is a reason why so many people do it…because it’s awesome! And, unlike the U.S. you can travel heaps of places quite cheaply. Who doesn’t want that? With all this in mind, I stumbled across Scotland. I never really gave much thought to the kilt-clad country before but as I researched it and looked at pictures of the gorgeous cities and countryside, my choice was easy. Scotland has such a rich and unique history and from what everyone said, the people seemed SO friendly and warm towards foreigners. “
Is the program well planned; Are things running smoothly?
Genny: “The application process for the ISEP program was actually quite messy and very stressful. I didn’t even know I was coming abroad until December. I left January 10th. This made getting a flight a very high stress situation but it did all work out so not too much to complain about. I had to do a bulk of the researching and applications work myself with little help at all from my home university but, of course, this may not be the case everywhere. Making sure I had housing and a meal stipend and planning out my courses before coming was also quite the doozy. The time difference made emailing Napier a bit difficult but overall they were pretty quick at getting back to me. Once I arrived in Edinburgh, however, all my orientations and such were mapped out simply and things ran simply! They made it all easy for us internationals. Though, I will say, the best thing to remember is to be patient. Things will take longer to happen and be confirmed than you might like them to but 9 times out of 10 it is going to work out! Just relax—I should take my own advice more.”
How do you like the classes/educational/employment parts of this program? Have you learned a lot?
Genny: “Wow! Let me just say, the classes here are so different from my classes at home. Not only is the set up of majors/courses not the same in the slightest, the way the modules themselves are structured or run is different as well. The courses are far more relaxed here in the grand scheme of things. I didn’t actually have an assignment to turn in until about a week ago…and I’ve been here for around 3 months. However, this does mean that when you do have an “assessment” due that it is worth a lot in terms of your final grade. Although overall going to school here is easier and less stressful, I have found it hard to adjust to having a lot of free time in my schedule. Many of the students who are here for all 4 years or who live in the city have jobs that I am sure would balance out time but because I did not get a Tier-4 visa, I was not able to do that. In addition, extracurricular are not as emphasized here which, again, means more free time that this overachiever doesn’t know what to do with.”
“In terms of the actual modules themselves, they are all right. I have enjoyed my Social Media course quite a bit because the whole class has been structured around blogging and podcasting. We even got to be featured on the student radio! My Creativity, Innovation & Enterprise class has also been pretty fun, but mostly because I am working in a group with two really cool and interesting people from Austria and Denmark. That’s the best part of classes I think – meeting other international students and/or students from that country you are studying at.”
What is the country like? Does it meet your expectations?
Genny: “Scotland is perfection. Edinburgh has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From its rich history, European architecture and lively social scene, it has got everything you want in a city. Not to mention it’s not TOO big so you can walk everywhere and get awesome chiseled calves in the process. There is always someone willing to strike up a conversation with you as well, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. The only rude people I’ve met since being here are the taxi drivers and some bus drivers…don’t mess with them, seriously! Nightlife is also huge here so if you are into that then Edinburgh is a great place to indulge. The best part of Scotland that I’ve seen so far though has definitely been what it is famous for: the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. Not more than a half a days drive from Edinburgh and you can be surrounded by the Grampian Mountains, driving through glen after glen seeing some of the world’s most beautiful scenery complete with the quintessential Highland coo (cow in proper English). So, in short, Scotland, I think, has surpassed my expectations.”
What has been the best and worst part about your experience traveling abroad?
Genny: “Hmm, this is a hard one. Since it is still going on I feel like my answer won’t be the same as it will when I have left Scotland and have had time to process things through. However, right now I would say that the best part about my experience has been getting out of my comfort zone in a variety of ways and traveling everywhere. Also, I think this whole experience has taught me to treat everyday like an adventure. I am aware that not everyone can afford to travel and that life gets in the way sometimes but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the spirit of wanderlust with you all the time. No matter if you’re trekking through the mountains of Romania or going to get coffee at your local coffee shop, there are new people to befriend and new things to learn. And, that is what traveling is really all about isn’t it?!”
“The worst thing I think was dealing with what I like to call FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. It is that feeling you get when you know you need to be alone or relax or do homework but all your friends are going out together or doing something fun.”
Would you make the same decision to study abroad with this program now, as you did before?
Genny: “I wouldn’t change my experience for anything! Mostly because of the city I was in and the people I met. So, when I consider those things—the adventures I had and the friendships I formed—I wouldn’t dare change it. However, I do think that doing a program where you would work or do an internship also would be really interesting and would help fill up any free time. Although, that might make traveling a little more difficult! It just depends on what you want out of the semester! If you’re planning on doing a year than getting a job or internship, I think, would be super beneficial! Nevertheless, for a semester, it could go either way.”
Once again, my thanks goes out to Ms. Parshley for taking the time to answer my questions and for offering such a great review of her experience. If you appreciated her input, please leave your thanks on her blog and let her know how much it helped! Thanks!