Studying in Canterbury, about an hour-long train ride outside of London, was not my original intention when I approached the Office of Global Education about studying abroad in the United Kingdom. I was dreaming of spending five months in London, the biggest city outside of the United States, and where I had always told everyone I wanted to go. Choosing a school in Southeast England, although not an easy decision and one that I mulled over for an entire summer, is now a choice that I am very glad I made.
Going to London had a lot of perks in my mind. I would almost definitely be studying with other Georgetown students so I would have some friendly faces, while now I am the only Hoya spending the spring at the University of Kent. I would be minutes away from some of the largest and most fantastic attractions in the world and could visit them at anytime I pleased. And, lastly, being in one of the largest cities in the world means that I would absolutely never run out of things to do.
When making my decision, however, I thought about all the reasons why I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to meet new people, learn about English customs and the differences between the cultures of the United States and the United Kingdom, and gain the experience of being a typical university student in England, rather than just a tourist in a major city. When taking these into account, I thought that the University of Kent would be a much better place to accomplish these goals, and, after five months here, I think I was right. I have been able to learn so much from the people I live with, who are English students, rather than other students studying abroad, I have gotten to know my professors and seminar leaders, and I have stressed and stayed up for late nights in the library during finals seasons with my classmates, who are also all full-time students at the university.
When I think about all the experiences that make up my everyday life in Canterbury that may not have been so easy to do in London, such as studying on the campus lawns, going for runs around town and through the charming City Centre, and walking to Whitstable Beach just a few towns over, I am very glad that I made the decision that I did. I have had the most amazing experiences here, I have enjoyed getting to know my classmates through our seminars and study groups, and I have even enjoyed my classes, although they definitely have not been easy. And I can even go into London for the day very easily whenever I want to. Feeling like a real English student for the past few months has been an amazing experience, and I am so glad that I was able to find the best program for me.