Alumni Spotlight: Alexandra Zatkin

Give us an intro!

A young girl posing for a picture.

Alexandra: Hi Everyone! I'm Alexandra but most refer to me as Allie. I'm a senior at Indiana University, studying Human Development and Family Studies. I am originally from the suburbs of Detroit and love to travel, drink a lot of coffee, box, and meet new people.

Why did you pick this program?

Alexandra: I picked IES Study London for a few main reasons. First off, I don't speak a language so I wanted an English speaking country, I knew the adjustment of living in a different country would be hard enough without adding a language barrier. I also loved the idea of how big London is and how diverse it is.

I knew I would never run out of things to do and places to explore. I also knew I wanted to travel and it is so easy to get to and from other places from London. Finally, there were several classes offered that really appealed to me and to a lot of the requirements I was trying to fill.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Alexandra: So, everyone had told me London was expensive but I wish someone would have told me just how expensive it really was. I remember being extremely stressed out my first week there because you just feel like you're putting out so much money all at once.

A group of young students gathered together.

However, once I got into the swing of things my budget regulated and I felt way better. I also wish I had known more of what to purchase at home and what to bring with me in terms of school supplies, toiletries, etc.

Most things can be purchased abroad but not nearly as cheaply. However, all of these things ended up working out just fine and figuring it out on my own overseas made me that much more competent.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Alexandra: The most important thing I learned abroad was who I truly am. For me, going to London could not have come at a better time. I was in a really big transitional period for a lot of different things, and I can honestly say going abroad helped me to find myself and figure out what I want in life.

I learned what true independence was for the first time and how to figure my way out through huge cities (especially without knowing the language in many of them).

A young woman standing on the street.

I learned what it was like being a new place and not having a solid game plan, just figuring it out as you went along and to become more relaxed and easy going. Most importantly though, I learned that there is no better experience than getting to travel and see the world.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Alexandra: DO IT! I have never heard of anyone coming home from being abroad with negative views. It is such a different experience. Taking classes abroad is a way different than your normal college courses in the states but they make you more marketable down the line.

Plus, going abroad means getting a chance to travel and see the world while you're young. Personally, I see it as opportunities such as going abroad don't come along often so you should definitely take it when you can as long as it fits into your schedule!

A young woman posing for a picture.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Alexandra: Taking classes abroad is like no experience you have at home when taking classes. IES did such a great job of incorporating field studies into all of our classes.

For instance, I took a British Youth Culture class and got to take a walking tour through Soho, Abbey Road, and so many other culturally rich parts of London while learning about the history that took place at all of these locations. That is something I NEVER would have been able to experience taking class at IU.

Also, for my media and politics class we got to tour the BBC. It makes class so much more interesting when you get experiences like those and really helps to immerse yourself into your home countries culture.