COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself (age, major, where you studied abroad)
My name is Kelly Marko, I am 21 years old and currently a senior at the University of New Hampshire. I am dual majoring in Information Systems and Finance as well as interning at Liberty Mutual. I studied abroad last semester (Spring 2017) in London, England and it was the absolute best time of my life!
COLA: Why did you choose London?
I chose London because I had gone when I was in High School, but wasn’t able to explore on my own/ create my own experience. London was the cleanest, most efficient city I had ever been to, so I was dying to go back. I chose the London Program through UNH which is a UNH managed program. I really enjoyed that because we were able to have an on-site UNH professor who acted almost as a parent to you whenever you needed guidance. Also, the students in my program all grew very close and we took on the huge city together. I wouldn’t have done it any other way because I made lifelong friends along the way with some of my greatest memories.
COLA: What were your expectations of London before arriving?
Before arriving in London, I expected it to be very wealthy, clean, and fast paced. I was correct in all of those assumptions. What I wasn’t fully aware of though, was how big the city of London actually was! There were many boroughs of it that were quiet, beautiful, and slower paced. It was fun exploring and finding my favorite parts of London and being able to go back to those spots whenever I wanted to.
COLA: What is the most valuable lesson you learned abroad?
The most valuable lesson I learned from being abroad was from my roommate, Kirsten McDonald at the time. She would always say, “London isn’t going to see itself!” This saying helped me on even rainy days to get out of bed and explore. After being in London for about five months I still didn’t get to explore it all, but much more than I ever would have thought.
COLA: What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
After being abroad for that long I realized I can be my own person and take risks all on my own. It is such a big leap going into a foreign country with people you don’t know, but if you put yourself out there and realize who you actually are, you will have no problem getting along with others as well as exploring a huge foreign city on your own. Being dependent solely on myself was a big step for me and I believe it forced me to mature in those five short months.
COLA: Did you travel outside your host city? If so where was the favorite place you went and why?
I did travel outside of London, I went to Limerick, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Amsterdam, and Lagos. My favorite city outside of London was Barcelona because it was a completely different culture. The language barrier was something to get used to because there isn’t one in London, but I still loved being able to be in a city and then having a beach in walking distance. Lagos was another one of my favorites because it was a relaxing vacation spent on the beach, but offered many different things to do like kayaking through caves. Never thought I would ever be able to say I did that, but it was amazing!
COLA: Tell us about the classes you took abroad. Did you have any memorable moments in any of these classes?
The classes I took abroad were general courses offered mainly to fulfill credits at UNH. They did offer courses that counted for discoveries at UNH, so that was very helpful. The teachers were from all over Europe as well as the students, so it was very interesting to interact and see how various cultures go about doing schoolwork. One of the classes I took was a theater class and is allowed me to see six different plays in London for free, which is a huge deal. London has its own “Broadway” pretty much, so seeing plays for free was such a luxury. One of the plays I saw had Daniel Radcliffe as the main character and I got to meet him afterwards, definitely one of my coolest experiences abroad!
COLA: Why do you recommend studying abroad in London? What are some of the benefits of studying there?
I recommend London because you will never ever get bored of this city. There is never a dull moment and thousands of things to do/see. Museums are free there, so on rainy days it was so easy to find something to do indoors. Regent’s University was also one of the best parts of London because it is located in a royal park, which is beautiful and quiet. It removes you from the city life, but then you are able to walk to all the main attractions like Big Ben and The London Eye. London makes it easy for you to separate from the city if you want to or be right in the middle and feel like you’re in Times Square.
COLA: What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students looking to study in London?
My advice for someone who wants to study abroad in London is to make the most out of the beautiful days there and just walk. There were many cases where I didn’t have a destination and just walked in a different direction and always found something new and exciting. Also, don’t believe people about the bad weather. It did rain, but it rains everywhere. I can only remember a handful of days where it rained all day, a lot of the time it’ll rain in the morning or at night or only for an hour. Just carry an umbrella for unexpected showers and you’ll be fine, the rain never ruined a day for me there. If you’re stuck in between cities of where to study abroad, definitely consider London because there’s no language barrier, it’s like NYC on steroids, and you’ll see famous people unexpectedly. Definitely go abroad, you won’t regret it for a second!