Before September 2019, I had no plans of ever studying abroad during my time at Drexel. I enjoyed living in my bubble of comfort and taking minimal risks. But more importantly, I genuinely didn’t believe I had the bravery or courage to leave behind everything I knew to “start a new life” for a term. Life is definitely filled with surprises and much of my sophomore year was spent romanticizing living abroad, meeting people from all over the world, attending lectures given by the most knowledgeable professors, and seeking adventure every day. I wanted nothing more than to break out of my shell, take matters into my own hands, and seize an opportunity I didn’t realize I needed. So two years later I did the scariest thing I’ve ever done, said goodbye to my family and friends to set off on an adventure of a lifetime.
I arrived at the bottom of the pathway leading up to Wills Hall in Bristol, England, clutching both my suitcases and mind buzzing with adrenaline. I stood in front of my accommodation feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves. My new home away from home seemed empty and unfamiliar, but as the days went by, my flat started to fill up with girls I now consider close friends. From the 2 AM fire evacuations, rainy days at the bus stop, Taylor Swift’s music echoing through the corridor at all hours, and everything in between, there was never a dull moment in the flats. The laughs and stories we exchanged from the moment I unpacked my bags until the day I left will be something I treasure for the rest of my life.
The good times didn’t just start and end at Wills, every day on campus at the University of Bristol was exciting. I gained a global perspective while soaking in the content of weekly lectures, debating legislation reform and public policy with peers, and analyzing the great works of British literature. My beliefs were challenged and shaped by the new culture and way of thinking I was surrounded by. By combining the British and American view, I developed new problem solving and analysis skills that will help me continue to be a well rounded and globally-thinking student. My biggest educational takeaway from my time at Bristol was recognizing that it didn’t matter where everyone came from or what they were studying, the passion of being a lifelong student was evident in every peer and professor I met.
I’ve always been told that some of life’s greatest lessons are not always taught from inside a classroom, and during the last three months I truly understood the magnitude of that. I learned to be adaptable, flexible, and enjoy “going with the flow” by not letting any rain—figurative and literal—ruin my parade. I became independent through every solo trip I took and grew more confident as I wandered the cobblestone streets of Scotland, sat at the street-side cafes in Wales, and hiked the limestone parks of Ireland. While I cherished the company of my friends and made memories to last a lifetime with them, I learned to be comfortable on my own, put myself first, and never compromise on my happiness. I never intended on this becoming a “soul-searching” trip or felt like I was lost in life prior to arriving in England, but now I’m leaving feeling like I’ve found myself.
It’s hard for me to believe that I actually studied abroad in Bristol, as what started as a dream in my head ended up turning into reality. After months of planning and back forth emails from my academic, co-op, and study abroad advisors, I can say with full certainty that every adjustment we made to make this happen was truly worth it. And from the moment I arrived in Bristol, the Global Lounge and university faculty did everything and more to make this academic experience successful. There will never be enough words to express my gratitude to my flatmates, who helped me make Bristol my home and are the reason a piece of my heart will forever stay there. And finally, none of this would’ve ever been possible without the unconditional support from family and friends who were always there for me every step of the way. From FaceTime check-ins to answering my texts at all hours of the day despite the time zone difference, they had my back through it all.
It’s bittersweet to leave this beautiful city and say goodbye to the experience that has changed my life forever. It may be the end of my study abroad journey, but it’s the start of a new phase of life filled with confidence, bravery, courage, independence, and a newfound love of living outside my comfort zone. And to anyone who is considering studying abroad, I hope that you seize this amazing opportunity and just go for it. I have truly never experienced anything more life-changing than my three months in Bristol.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.