Alumni Spotlight: Carley Haft

Carley is an undergraduate at the University of Rochester studying Biology and Public Health. She has studied or worked abroad in Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and has travelled to 25+ countries.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose a direct enrollment program because I wanted the chance to directly take classes with and to live among locals. London is a thriving international city so it is easy to dive right into the culture.

Also, I chose QMUL specifically because I needed to take Biology classes for my major and had the option of taking modules (as the Brits call it) in their medical school. Because of this, QMUL was a real gem because it is often hard for Science majors to find Study Abroad programs that fulfill their degree requirements!

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

IES helped me with the transition into London. The IES application was linked to Queen Mary, so IES staff kept me informed of deadlines and were there to help with any questions about the application process. IES organized housing with QMUL which was a lifesaver as housing in London is hard to come by.

Most importantly, in my case, I was able to get amazing health insurance coverage in the UK through IES. I got a nasty back injury while abroad, and I was worried my doctor's visits would be SUPER expensive. Thanks to IES, I only had to pay a $100 USD deductible, and everything else was covered!

In terms of life in London, though, you need to do your own leg work to meet locals and get immersed in the new environment.

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

Don't be afraid to ask questions, and reach out to people who have studied abroad before! I knew I wanted to study abroad for an entire year in multiple different locations, but I didn't know where to start with the process. Through my Study Abroad office, I was able to get in touch with some people who attend programs I was interested in!

Also, IES has an Ambassador Program where prospective students can ask alumni such as myself questions about their program. When I was applying, I reached out to an alumna, and she answered all my questions and really helped me feel prepared for my transition.

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

The UK academic system is very different from what I was used to in the US. Although I was taking a full course load, I only had to be in class eight hours a week total. This meant that I had a lot of flexibility to plan extra travel or to explore London and nearby cities. Of course, few contact hours in class meant that I had to be proactive and keep up with my assignments and readings independently, but I appreciated the flexibility of the UK schedule.

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

I naively assumed that London wasn't a "real" Study Abroad location because everything would be done in English. As a result, I was afraid that my life in London would look like my life in the States.

I am so glad I was wrong! London truly is the crossroads of the roads and has a large international community! I lived in east London so while walking in the area surrounding my university campus, I got to hear Indian and Middle Eastern languages on a regular basis. Also, the class schedule in the UK allowed me to travel a TON within Europe and the UK which is so unlike a typical semester at Rochester.

What is your favorite trip you took while studying abroad?

I took a 5-day adventure to Croatia with a good friend from my home university! We spent our days going on beautiful hikes, jumping in the warm ocean, and eating delicious local seafood. We also got really lucky and booked our tickets for before the high tourist season, so they were very affordable!