Alumni Spotlight: Raychel Johnson

Raychel is currently a senior at Penn State University with a major in Marketing and a minor in International Business. She enjoys going to all of Penn State's sporting events and playing intramural soccer. She also has been involved with an organization that helps fundraise money for Penn State's 46-hour dance marathon where all of the proceeds go towards children with pediatric cancer.

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Why did you choose this program?

I first chose the program in England because I have always had a desire to go to London and live in a big city.

I then chose the Study London program because I liked the idea of taking classes at a study center but also have the option of taking another class at a local university. It was an easier process because I did not have to directly enroll at another university.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provided me my housing, which ended up being in an apartment complex where I shared a room with one other person. It was a great help to have this already provided for me, instead of having to find a place to live on my own. The only thing I really had to organize on my own was my flights to and from the UK.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

One piece of advice I would give is to take advantage of all that your program offers.

My program offered multiple day and overnight trips to other cities and towns throughout England. They were already planned with transportation, housing, and places to go. All you had to do was sign up and pay for them.

I was able to go on a couple trips, which allowed me to see places I probably wouldn't have though of going on my own and I was able to meet other students in my program. If your program wants to plan events, whether that is going out to eat somewhere or going on a trip, take advantage of the opportunity and go!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average week for me consisted of having classes Monday-Thursday. I would have either one to two classes a day that ranged from 10 am-7 pm. I typically would make lunch in the kitchen before I left for class or grab a sandwich on the way.

At night, my roommate and I would sometimes make dinner or a group of my friends and I would meet up at a local pizza place down the road from where we lived.

Most weekends consisted of traveling to another country. We typically would leave sometime on Friday and return on Sunday.

Throughout the week, each day was different as I would take a different path to class and explore parts of the city I had never been to. One of the best parts of London was that there was always somewhere new to go and something new to try.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was traveling on my own for the first time in a country I had never been to. I was pretty nervous on the day of my departure but I just kept thinking of what was to come and the endless opportunities and adventures that were waiting for me.

I made sure to have a plan from the moment I got off the plane in London. I had already scheduled a car to pick me up at the airport and take me to my apartment complex. This allowed me to have one less thing to worry about when I landed. Traveling on your own can be a little stressful and scary about if you just relax and have a plan then it will be a lot easier!

What was one of your favorite things you did in your host country?

In one of the last weeks of my program, a group of my friends and I bought tickets for a World Cup qualifier soccer match between England and Lithuania. The game was played at Wembley Stadium, so we all hoped on the tube to get there.

Our seats were located on one of the corners of the stadium about twenty rows up. By the time the game was getting ready to start, almost the entire stadium was full and we had no idea how we had gotten such great seats for a cheap price.

Being a soccer fan, it was such an amazing experience to watch an international soccer game and being able to watch it with all of my friends I made abroad.