Alumni Spotlight: Allie Mason

Allie Mason is 22 years old and studied in London, England from August 27-December 15, 2013. Allie is from Baltimore, Maryland and is a Strategic Communications Major at Elon University. Studying abroad appealed to Allie since the city had so many great communications opportunities.

the Tube

Recall a time when your education and experience didn't prepare you for a situation abroad.

Allie: For me, the biggest change was figuring out the Tube. This is obviously something that education and experience couldn’t prepare me for since this is not how I commute to and from places in Baltimore. Taking the tube was a matter of forcing yourself to get on and figure it out day by day.

There were several instances where I would get on the tube, ride for a couple of minutes, then realize that I was indeed on the wrong train. For me, figuring out the tube was a matter of trial and error, as I believe it was for many of my peers. However, once I figured it out, I took the tube everywhere, and was comfortable taking it by myself.

Did you forget to pack something important? Did you feel as if you were missing something?

Allie: One of the biggest regrets I have from my trip was OVERPACKING! I was so nervous before I left that I felt obligated to pack my whole wardrobe. Of course, I did not take into consideration the clothes, shoes and souvenirs I would be buying abroad. My nervousness disabled me to realize that I COULD buy shampoo and ibuprofen while I was over there, I did not necessarily need to pack it.

Additionally, I packed things that I thought I would definitely need, that I did not end up using at all. For example, I packed rain boots that took up tons of room in my suitcase. While some people used their rain boots everyday (since London is rainy), I found that regular boots worked just fine. Take into consideration what you know you will need, and try to eliminate several items that you are questioning before you set off on your journey.

Stone Henge

What is one piece of advice you'd give future students traveling with your program?

Allie: My biggest piece of advice that I could offer to student traveling to London is to bring a GOOD UMBRELLA. Spend the money to buy a good, compact one that you can chuck into a bag or backpack and have at the ready. You never know when it is going to rain (or clear up), so having a compact umbrella was crucial.

When I traveled to Barcelona, it was sunny in London when I left so I didn’t think to bring my umbrella. However, when I returned to England it was absolutely POURING and I had to run home from my tube stop while getting soaking wet, because I completely forgot about my umbrella. It seems like a really stupid thing to invest in, but having a good, strong umbrella can absolutely make or break your day.

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

Allie: Having studied in the UK before and making new British friends throughout my stay, I would say that there definitely are many differences between British English and American English. I remember my friends asking “You alright?” upon greeting me. At first, I wondered if they noticed my homesickness or nervousness about being in a new city. Later I learned that this means “what’s up?” or “how are you doing?”

Also, their vocabulary is far more proper than what I am used to in the United States. This allowed me to bump up my vocab skills and proper speech. Even still I use terms that might be more “British” and my friends like to make fun of me, but I just prefer to speak that way now.

What made this experience unique and special?

Allie: Not to be too cliché, but this experience truly changed my life. Before my time in London, I felt as though I was not as confident as I am now; both in my skin, and confident in my abilities navigating a new place or situation. While I had studied abroad in England before, I never got the chance to be as independent as I was when I studied there last year.

My time in London made me realize that I want to move back at some point after graduating college. It is a great place for communications or business-minded people to work and live, given all the opportunities there. I hope to go back later this year because I think about, and miss my London experience every day.