Postcards from the UK
Leaving the nest for the great unknown
AMANDA MITCHELL // COLUMNIST
Growing up, I always imagined that one day I would pack up my belongings, purchase a one-way ticket to the other side of the world and leave the nest for the great unknown. I would hear stories of people who would arrive in another country with no plan and little preparation, leaving their experiences abroad in the hands of fate. In reality, this is not usually what happens, but there is an option for students who want to experience the thrill of going away – study abroad.
As a high school student, it was imperative that I attend a university with a study abroad program, even ruling out schools that did not have such option. Fortunately for me, Capilano University not only offers full-term, 12-credit semesters in other countries, it also offers unique short-term field schools. And while I fully intended to take a full semester abroad, the glimpse that a short-term field school would provide was necessary, as I wanted to be certain that I would choose the most suitable city to my liking.
On Feb. 9, 2017, I headed off for a 10-day field school to London. It changed my life. Not only did I earn three credits for an upper level elective, but I met some of the greatest students and instructors at CapU. By the time our return flight hit the runway, I knew London was the city I was going to for a full semester.
During the London Field School, I took a day trip to CapU’s partner school in England, the University of Hertfordshire. I toured the campus, familiarized myself with the facilities and met follow study abroad students attending the school at the time. Had I not attended this day trip, I would have had greater difficulty choosing which school to apply to.
The application process for the full term abroad, I’ll admit, was not a piece of cake. Competition was steep and due to considerable interest in U of H, much of the acceptance ended up being based on GPA. Thankfully, I made it. While GPA was integral in the process, there were other factors that played a role, too. Relationships with instructors, community members and other students were also considered.
While study abroad marks an exciting and new venture in my life, questions about home have rightfully been asked. Other students and friends have asked about my job at home, where I will stay and whether I will be studying abroad with friends. Luckily, my work has allowed me to take a temporary leave of absence, ensuring employment upon my return. As for working in England, I did not feel that it was feasible to work for only six months, so I put a considerable amount of savings away for this experience to ensure that I would be covered for my time abroad. This however, does not mean that working abroad is impossible.
I entered this experience knowing that it may have to be done alone. I was okay with travelling by myself because I knew that I would meet new friends in England. For others, it was important to know that someone was joining them, and that’s okay too. I have always been an independent individual, and because I’ve had the privilege to travel a lot as a child, I am aware of the sacrifices that often have to be made abroad.
This international experience will be a life changing time in my life and I’m so excited for what lies ahead. As I head into a new adventure, I hope to learn what it’s like to balance long distance relationships, enhance what little cooking skills I have, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and be thankful for a home in Canada.