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GlobaLinks - Study Abroad at Kingston University
Kenny is a 28 year-old Creative Writing student with a specialty in Genre Fiction, graduating in December 2013 with a BFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College on the shores of Lake Tahoe. He grew up in suburban Southern California, joined the U.S. Navy as an Intelligence Specialist straight out of high school, and has been to 21 different countries. Kenny's dream is to live in Scotland, writing and editing science fiction and fantasy novels.
Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks?
Kenny: Ultimately, GlobaLinks was the only organization I found to have a program in the UK with classes that would count toward my degree. Because all of my electives were already covered, there were only a select few classes I could take for credit.
I highly recommend studying abroad earlier in your academic career, rather than later, as it leaves you with much more options, class-wise. GlobaLinks also gave me assistance navigating the visa process and provided a 24/7 contact, should anything go wrong during the program. It was less about the things they did than the things they would do in the case of an emergency.
What made this study abroad experience with GlobaLinks unique and special?
Kenny: Perhaps it's just because it was a one-month summer program, but we went on field-trips into London for about half of the class sessions! This was astounding to me - I got to read a Shakespeare play, then go and see it performed at the Globe in London! Even better, after reading novels like Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist, we would take walks in London that followed streets and landmarks mentioned in the books! It was a great way to bring new perspective to old literature. The classes were also relatively small, with only about 20 people per class, which made it a lot more enjoyable for me.
Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.
Kenny: I've read quite a few English authors and studied the history of the British Isles rather extensively, but nothing prepared me for London. If you're an American, you may think you understand diversity, but London is the melting pot - everyone was there, and the meshing of cultures can be noticed from the people on the street to the curry shops dotting the city. As far as practical advice goes - get out of London! This is vital! London is an interesting city, yes, but there are cities everywhere - only England has English countryside, and it's completely unlike anywhere else. If you have the chance, find a "walk" (essentially an abbreviated backpacking trip), grab a friend, and do it! While in the city, hit a pub for a pint, find someplace to have high tea, go to the Tower of London, but above all - do stuff. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't.
Describe your best photo taken and what is it of?
Kenny: My favorite photo, since "best" is rather subjective, is of the remains of a ruined cathedral in St. Andrew's graveyard in Scotland. I'll never forget the moment I first saw it - we were at the castle ruins, about a half mile away from the graveyard, and there was this spire that looked like it belonged in some sort of Gothic novel or video game just jutting into the skyline. I stopped dead in my tracks, pointed, and said to my friends "We're going there next." "What is it?" they asked. "I have no idea," I said, "but we're going to find out." And that is how adventures begin. Oddly enough, my second favorite picture is of haggis.
Do you think your program changed you?
Kenny: I'd already traveled rather extensively by this point, so the cultural, geographical, and culinary differences weren't terribly shocking to me. However, up until this point, I had seriously considered attending graduate school and settling down in England.This trip made question that goal; England was nice, but not what I had expected. Instead, my goal changed to go to graduate school and settle down in Scotland. This is why you do as many extracurricular activities and side-trips as possible! I never would have discovered the glories of the Highlands, otherwise, and now the entire course of my life is altered, all due to one little three-day field trip.
Ashley Jean is from Dracut, Massachusetts and she studied abroad in London, England during July 2012. She is 21 and studies history at UMass Lowell. She enjoys traveling, going to the beach, and spending time with her friends.
When: Summer of 2012
Highlights: The academic highlight of my trip was definitely our field trip to Bath! As a history major, I've heard about it many times before, but it was even more remarkable in person! To get there we drove through the English countryside- beautiful! The day was perfectly divided- we got a tour of the baths and the city, but we also had ample time to shop, too! And of course we got to taste the water (which tasted absolutely horrible, but you still have to try it!)
The overall highlight of my trip was venturing to the Warner Brothers set of Harry Potter. I've been reading the books since the fourth grade, attending almost every midnight book and film release. It was such an incredible opportunity to actually walk on set! They have preserved things so well, and the layout is amazing. I would recommend it to any Harry Potter fan.
Morning: On mornings that I had class I would begin with breakfast in my flat. We had our own kitchen and were able to go grocery shopping, so that was a great way to save some money! Then I would walk to class, which only took about 15 minutes. Classes were about 2-3 hours, depending on whether or not we had a field trip later in the day. If it was a long class we were given a break and allowed to go grab food or beverages from the cafeteria.
On mornings that I didn't have class I would usually walk to the center of town with some friends to grab breakfast at this cafe we loved called Cafe Nero. It seemed like the starbucks-type of chain cafe, and they had the most delicious lattees I have ever had in my life! Then we would take the train to wherever we had planned on going that day, such as to Hyde Park or to see the Tower Bridge!
Afternoon: During the afternoon, I was rarely ever at the dorms. There was always so much to do! Most afternoons were spent on field trips. My British Culture and Society class went to Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, and many other places. If I wasn't on a field trip then I was usually with some friends touring London! We were so lucky to have been there the month leading up to the Olympics so we got to see them setting up!
Evening: My friends and I loved to go out to dinner and then to a pub. The dorms are very close to the Surbiton town center and there were several pubs that we became regulars at. Our favorite was Victoria Hall. We couldn't stay away from those fish and chips and a tall glass of Strongbow! There were also a few nights that I spent at the Globe Theater because of field trips for my Shakespeare class. What better way is there to see a play? We also spent a night making hot dogs to celebrate the Fourth of July together since we were so far from home!
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks?
Ashley: I chose GlobaLinks because my Study Abroad Advisor recommended the program. The program offered great weekend excursions to Scotland, Ireland, Paris, and Brighton, giving us the chance to travel as much as we wanted during our time abroad. Kingston University offered great classes and it was a program that I was overall very impressed by.
GO: What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Ashley: This Study Abroad experience was so unique because we weren't right in the heart of central London. London has many suburbs, and we were in the suburb of Surbiton, taking classes in the suburb of Kingston. It was the perfect place to live because we got to see the everyday life of our British neighbors while also being able to conveniently travel into central London by train. I feel like that made me so good at navigating the Underground and train system of London, which is something that the city is so proud of. Surbiton is an adorable town, and it is somewhere I will visit during all future visits to England!
GO: Describe an example when GlobaLinks went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great experience abroad.
Ashley: GlobaLinks was an amazing program to work with. We were given one coordinator to work with directly, and I felt like I was really taken care of. Katiana, my coordinator, was extremely quick to respond to every email I sent her, making sure to thoroughly answer any question I asked her. They also made a Facebook page that we were allowed to join with other students going on the program so we were able to make connections before we got there and see how others were preparing for the trip. During my weekend in Paris, there was a shooting in Colorado. Within hours, GlobaLinks sent an email informing us that everyone from the program was safe and giving us more information on the topic. It helped me to feel a connection to the US and was a reassurance to us all. GlobaLinks is an amazing program and I would absolutely pick them if I did it all over again!
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Ashley: This experience has impacted many of my future decisions. I now know that I have a passion for traveling, and it has made me want to see the world! After studying abroad, I am so much more mature and independent. I have a true since of responsibility and I now feel that I can do anything! This experience also looks incredible on my resume, and gives me so much to talk about to people that I meet.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks at Kingston University?
Sierra: I was an Exercise and Sports Science major and always knew I wanted to study abroad. I did not have a lot of room in my curriculum to study a language so I focused my search to English-speaking countries. British culture is something that has always interested me and London is a great central location to make side trips all over Europe.
Kingston stood out to me because of their Sports Science program and how well it fit into my degree plan. The advisors at Kingston and the counselors at EuroLearn were so helpful with making my decision and helping me plan my trip.
GO: What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Sierra: My study abroad experience was unique, in my opinion, because of the people I met. It is impossible to study abroad and not meet people that will change your life forever. I traveled to several places in England and around Europe with people I met at Kingston and have remained close friends with them.
I also had the opportunity to study my field of interest from a new point of view, which has continued to benefit me as I pursue my career. My memories and experiences from studying abroad are special to me and remain my favorite part of college.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Sierra: The unique experience that I gained from my time in London helped me get accepted to Physical Therapy school because cultural competence and open-mindedness is such an important topic in health care today. I was able to complete my degree on time, thanks to the support of my university's advisors as well as the EuroLearn staff, who helped me choose courses that would transfer as required classes at my home university.
I am continuously looking for opportunities to go abroad again to continue learning about people and cultures. Studying abroad solidified my love of traveling and I am excited about tailoring my future to involve more new experiences, places, and people.
About GlobaLinks Learning Abroad
GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, originally titled AustraLearn, was created by Cynthia Banks in direct response to requests from an Australian university to assist U.S. students who wanted to study abroad in Australia. They have been in operation since 1987. Since then, AustraLearn became the largest provider of study abroad programs to more than 25 universities in Australia and added new partner institutions in New Zealand and Fiji.
In 2008, AustraLearn expanded its reach to more regions of the world. EuroLearn and AsiaLearn were created as additional programs of GlobaLinks Learning Abroad to accommodate an increasing demand from students and advisors for structured, well supported, and affordable programs in destinations worldwide.