Expand your personal horizons

Written by Joshua Collings, BSc Economics

My study abroad period at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life so far. From exploring my way through the historic cities of Richmond and Philadelphia to enhancing my learning experience in a system which greatly values participation in class, every moment of my time in the USA has felt immensely fulfilling.

Life on campus was always exciting; living in the vibrant community of Framar House meant that there was always an opportunity to get to know new people and engage in cultural exchange. This included my participation in activities such as Bhangra dancing, UMW’s annual Devil Goat Day event and preparation for the, sadly cancelled due to the weather, Holi festival. The classroom environment, given the small size of the university, was always cosy and allowed me to easily participate and engage with both my professors and fellow students, which differed greatly from my home experience of large, packed lecture halls. Studying in the USA has also given me a much clearer idea of where I want to take my degree and the career opportunities that might be available to me when I finish; the experience has been a very good motivator for me.

Studying abroad has given me numerous opportunities outside of the college campus too. During spring break, I travelled to Toronto alongside friends I made at the university, getting to see the city from the top of the CN Tower and wander through the snow-filled streets. On the return drive we stopped for a night in Philadelphia, which included a stop at an authentic American diner where I sampled a traditional Philly Cheesesteak. After the end of exams, I travelled to Richmond alongside friends as I had always wanted to experience the history and culture of the city and took part in a road trip up to Portland in Maine where we hiked through the beautiful woods of the Acadia National Park. These opportunities wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the IMAGINE bursary, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Overall, I cannot recommend studying abroad enough. If you want to meet a range of new people, see new and different places and expand your personal horizons all while enhancing your university experience, then study abroad is for you.

United States

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