Students studying abroad during the Fall 2016 term were prompted with the question, “As your semester abroad comes to an end, what advice would you give to future study-abroad students from Colgate? What will you miss the most? What has been most shocking to you? How have you changed because of this experience?”
In the coming weeks, we will highlight the responses from those students who are studying abroad.
Danielle Kliger ’18, who is a Mathematical Economics major and participating in the London Economics Study Group, shares her story below:
It was our first weekend spent away from London. Due to last minute planning and expensive flights, my friends and I decided to explore closer to home. This brought us to the little seaside town of Brighton. Now there isn’t much to do in Brighton, so naturally we found ourselves with wine in hand, an overwhelming plate of seafood, and engaging conversation. It was here that I began jotting a note in my phone of all of the places and things we wanted to cover while abroad. This journey of trying new things began right then and there when Lindsay, my flatmate, tried an oyster for the first time. With disgust and slight confusion, she stated, “I don’t get the point.” Clearly, we had a long way to go.
Fast forward four months with fifteen cities and eight countries behind us, and a few more first time experiences, we gathered around yet another dinner table and decided to look back at the note. An overwhelming sense of panic set in when we came face to face with the realization that we had achieved little from the list we had been so keen on covering. What have we been doing this whole time? After this alarming moment had subdued, I realized that going abroad wasn’t necessarily about checking items off of a list, but it was about stepping outside of my Colgate community and experiencing something new.
This past semester, I have had the opportunity and great privilege to study economics through a global lens, to explore cultures and areas around Europe, and to most importantly call London my home. I was able to learn firsthand from former Labour Party councillor, Rima Horton, about the UK healthcare and education system, as well as a host of different guest lecturers. I got to live the Colgate bubble in a bustling city–the ideal combination. Lucky enough, I was able to share this experience with fifteen other Colgate peers, people that I wouldn’t have gotten to know had I not been on a Colgate study abroad program. Through our mutual discomfort that a new city brings and the desire to make this our home, we became close.Beyond the classroom, our group attended twelve theatre productions, spent three weeks at various internships, and explored the London nightlife.
Through these experiences, I have made the transition from feeling like a tourist to feeling like a local, a transition that I think is only made possible by living in the city for an extended period of time. I have tried new foods, seen historical monuments, walked the streets in other European countries, and have in turn grown as an individual. I have a deeper appreciation of the British and European culture and a newfound understanding that although stepping outside of my comfort zone leaves me vulnerable, it is the only way to gain a new perspective on the world.
As sad as it is to leave my home here in London and transition back to small town living, I take comfort in knowing that my experiences weren’t short term but will stay with me. The economics that I have learned will aid in my future studies and the friendships I have made will only become stronger in the future. Most importantly, the independence that I have gained is something that will shape how I view the world moving forward. It is for these reasons that I recommend stepping outside of the comfort of Hamilton and venturing off to see the world around us, not because you have sites to check off, but because these new experiences will diversify your lens and broaden your horizons.