When I received my confirmation email for a year abroad at Georgetown University, I think I screamed. I was absolutely over the moon. America was unexplored territory for me. I was filled with idealistic visions of what being an exchange student would be like. I saw monthly weekend trips to New York, frat parties galore, and the possibility of even becoming a sorority girl. I saw myself embarking upon a ‘detox’ lifestyle that would consist of eating salads and acai bowls, going to the gym at 6am every morning, and gaining a tan.
Fast forward to second semester. I’ve been to New York once. I am definitely not a sorority girl. Georgetown doesn’t even have Greek life. Acai bowls are frankly kind of overrated. I’ve had a few rough patches and missed home in ways I didn’t even begin to expect.
Yet, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Georgetown for the world.
I’ve seen so much art. D.C. is full of the most wonderful museums – from the Hirshhorn to the National Portrait Gallery. I have had the opportunity to get lost amongst Monets and Van Goghs, and then simply Uber back to campus. The modern art installations in D.C. are absolutely breathtaking. Going to art museums takes up a huge slice of my heart, and I am so fortunate to have been able to build upon my interests on my year abroad.
I’ve had the most amazing opportunities. I worked on the press and marketing team for TEDxGeorgetown. I gained positions on the Georgetown Marketing Association and Agency, which allowed me to partake in marketing campaigns for local organisations, non-profits, and meaningful companies that want to make a difference. As an editor for the Georgetown magazine, I’ve been able to attend exclusive premieres for blockbuster hits like ‘Us’ and ‘Boy Erased.’ The world has opened its doors, and I have Georgetown to thank for that.
Man, the concerts! Childish Gambino, Troye Sivan, Brockhampton, Panic! at the Disco. Local bands. DIY gigs in the basements of friends’ apartments. A cappella groups on campus. Open mics. Acoustic sets. The sounds of people in my corridor singing in the shower. The whole year has been filled with music, and that has brought me so much joy.
I’ve gotten to attend wonderful events on campus, such as the annual tree lighting ceremony and the glamorous Corp Gala. During my time here, I truly felt like a ‘Hoya’ – a member of the Georgetown community. From black tie events, to long nights in the library, to falling asleep to the sounds of football practice outside my window.
I’ve made the most fearless, kind, and wonderful friends – many of whom I know I will stay in contact for years to come. They are some of the best people I know. I’m already planning my return trip back next semester.
A year abroad is never perfect. It has its challenges. It is normal to miss home. It is normal to feel like you want to have a bit of a cry if exams get too much. It is normal to question what you’re doing in a foreign country, in a new university. Yet, a year abroad can also be full of so much joy. At the end of the day, your experiences abroad are yours. They are exactly what you make of it, and have as much value and importance as you desire. Keep them, hold them close to you. I am so grateful to have been able to study in Georgetown. I’ve grown so much and learnt so much in ways I never could have dreamed of. A huge thank you to the University of Edinburgh for providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime experience!