Whether you come from near or far, college is definitely a time to grow as an individual, and discover many things, including things about yourself. However, sometimes we may feel that attending college close to home doesn’t allow us the full experience of self discovery, mostly because we are still familiar with our surroundings, despite being in a university setting. One of the best ways to overcome this obstacle is by studying abroad in a country with a different culture, and travelling to unfamiliar places, which is exactly what Honors student, Abhigna Akurathi, did. Follow along as she recounts her experience studying abroad at Lancaster University in England.
Since I came to a university very close to where I was raised, I knew that I wanted to expand my horizons, by going some place more distant from my home. This was one of the reasons I knew I wanted to study abroad. Another reason I wanted to go abroad was because I have always been intrigued with other cultures, and I felt that by going abroad, I would be able to learn more about them.
I studied abroad for a semester at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England. Lancaster is a small town just a few hours north of London. While at Lancaster University, I took three courses: English Literature, Philosophy and Thermodynamics. My experience at the university was just over eleven weeks, however I was in Europe for an additional three and a half weeks traveling. I traveled for a short while prior to my program and for some time following the completion of my program. One of my main goals for this experience was to complete a lot of self-discovery and to be more comfortable with myself and I truly feel that I have achieved that.
Throughout this experience, I learned much more about myself than I ever thought possible, and I felt that I also grew to be much more independent than I had ever been. Coming to a university so close to home, I felt that I did not have as much of an opportunity to gain more independence than I already had, but going across the world provided me with that chance. I felt that I grew to be a more aware person, especially for accepting new cultures and adapting to them. During my time abroad, I visited many places outside England and with each trip, I was more comfortable with myself and was able to find ways to interact with people who were part of different cultures and even spoke different languages.
Another skill that I developed that I am very grateful for was navigation skills. This was a skill I lacked prior to my trip and I felt that this would negatively impact my time abroad; however, I learned quickly and it was a crucial piece of knowledge to have while travelling. Over the weekends, I had the opportunity to visit Ireland, Scotland, Norway, and other cities in England. Prior to my experience, I visited the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria. Following my experience, I visited France and Belgium. The two major highlights of my trip were all the travelling I was able to do and meeting many English students and learning about their culture while living with them.
I felt that living with English students allowed me to quickly understand the culture and it helped me adapt to the new environment very quickly. Furthermore, the classes I took also aided in expanding my mind. All of them were taught in a new perspective that I had never considered. I feel that I can now take this knowledge and apply it to my career as an engineer by coming up with more unique and innovative solutions. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad and I am very grateful that I was provided this opportunity.
Written by: Abhigna Akurathi, Honors Student
Abhigna Akurathi is a sophomore Biomedical Engineering student at the University of Iowa. She used the time she had abroad to continue in her journey of self discovery and learn more about other cultures.
Edited by: Chloe Sekhran, Blog Manager