Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA
I studied abroad at Georgetown University in Washington DC for a year. I chose to undertake the exchange program because I thought that it would be interesting to study my subject from a different perspective, and gain a global insight into my studies. I hoped to broaden my knowledge not only academically but also culturally, through an immersion into a country and culture different to my own.
The experience of studying at Georgetown was an incredibly rewarding one. The teaching style and forms of assessment were much different to Edinburgh, and although this was hard to adjust to at first, I found it helped me to appreciate different ways of working to my own. The city itself was also an incredibly vibrant and unique place to study – you can’t usually say the U.S Secretary of State is living two roads down from you, or that you’ve done your trick or treating at the British Embassy!
I feel the experience has changed me for the better in many ways. I think following my time studying abroad my mind set is definitely a more global one, and I now really appreciate the benefits of cultural diversity and the opportunities this can bring. I also definitely feel more confident in my studies, and am not afraid of taking more unconventional approaches to both academic and real world problems that I may have felt uncomfortable pursuing before.
One of the best things I did whilst studying was undertaking an internship in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a politics student I found the experience incredibly rewarding and think it is one of the highlights of my time abroad that I will always remember. I made great friends in the office, and it provided me with an opportunity to implement my knowledge in the practical world. I also got the chance to see some great speakers at the university, including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair. The opportunity to travel across the USA was also a fantastic experience, and one I could arguably not have done had I not studied abroad. I managed to visit many cities and experience so many different people throughout my travels which was amazing. I also managed to get involved with a few campus organisations, but my favourite was one called GIVES, that involved completing ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ around campus in order to brighten the days of staff and fellow students. These ranged from small tokens such as giving out chocolate in the library, through to larger projects, such as helping maintenance staff shovel snow in the blizzard. This was an incredible organisation to be part of!
I think I benefited from the experience in a multitude of ways. Firstly I definitely improved my communication skills, through interacting with a wide variety of people from differe
nt cultures and backgrounds. I also feel like it helped me to realise where my academic interests lie, and what subjects I would like to pursue in the future – my dissertation topic was inspired by one of my year abroad professors! I think it has definitely improved my employability, firstly through the opportunity I had to undertake work experience in a field related to my degree, and furthermore through all the transferable skills I have developed. I think that immersing myself in another culture for a year shows my adaptability to any situation, and ultimately I believe that I am much more well equipped now to undertake any challenge that may be thrown at me in a workplace. Finally, one of the biggest benefits I think I have gained is a new global network of friends! I met so many amazing people on my year abroad from all around the world, many of which I believe I will remain friends with for life.
I think my year studying abroad was absolutely amazing and I would recommend it to everyone. Although it may seem scary at first to take the leap, it is certainly worthwhile. It was definitely the highlight of my university experience, and the best year of my life to date!