Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Jean

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.

Ashley and friends in London!

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.

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!

Describe an example when GlobaLinks went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great experience abroad.

Enjoying the beautiful beach!

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!

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.

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!

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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!