Alumni Spotlight: Brooke Grasso


Brooke is a journalism student at the University of La Verne in Southern California.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose BCA Cheltenham not only because it had my major, but because of the location and experiences I had heard about from my friends who also went to Cheltenham.

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

BCA made sure my housing was arranged, the flight was scheduled and classes were in order. Our resident director, Sandy, was our second mother who helped us with finding grocery stores, planning weekend trips and navigating the city. I never felt alone in the process, I was always able to reach out to someone at BCA for a quick and helpful response.

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

I would say to go into the experience with an open mind. Be open to meeting new people and seeing new things, because that is what this experience is all about. Don't go into it thinking you know everything about the country, its people or what your daily life will be like. Be willing to be pleasantly surprised, take everything in and allow the experience to wow you.

Always take advantage of opportunities to get involved at your school abroad. It might sound intimidating, but I was invited to do election coverage on election night with the other journalism students and it was such a fun night. Totally worth the all-nighter we pulled.

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

Every day was different, which is part of what made it so exciting. After waking up (in your own room, because they don't do roommates there) I would go to the community kitchen and make breakfast with my floormates.

I only had classes three days a week, so on those days I would walk to class, which is a beautiful walk so I would only take the bus if it was pouring rain. After class we would all go see something new in the city, visit a new restaurant or just hang out in the community kitchen.

On the weekends we typically took trips to other cities or countries including Paris, Rome, Dublin, and London. We would visit nearby parks, tea rooms or just walk around to take it all in on our free time.

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 that I would feel alone in class, and that I wouldn't fit in with the British students. I was pleasantly surprised the very first day of class when I made friends with my British classmates. They always wanted to hear about what life in the US is like, and would help me acclimate to their culture.

After hearing I am from near Los Angeles, I was always asked "Have you met Kylie Jenner?" After seeing how intrigued they were by my life (and the fact that Americans actually eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) I was excited to go to class and see them every day.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing I wish I would have done differently would be to go during the Spring semester. Spring semester study abroad students are typically there for longer. At my university, they are there for around 4 months instead of 3. They also have spring break and can take advantage of that week-long break to take longer trips to other countries.