Many universities offer study abroad programs for various areas of study. Although the purpose of these programs are to provide international exposure to your chosen area of discipline, it is also an opportunity to be immersed in the sights, sounds, and energy of another culture.
I had a chance to talk to Alishba Aleem who received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at UC Irvine and Master’s degree in Health Care Administration at CSULB and had the opportunity to study abroad in the process.
I studied abroad during my third year of college in Brighton, England. I was able to take classes that contributed towards finishing my degree at UC Irvine. I heard great things about the program and that was all it took for me to decide to do it.
I would say that it took me a month or two to plan. I attended an information session and was set on going to study abroad. I told my roommate and a friend I had recently met about it and they were interested as well. We filled out the appropriate forms and booked our tickets a couple months before leaving (I think it was later than most people).
What method did you use to book your accommodations? Did the university assist in the process?
I don’t recall the website we booked our flight through, but it was through something like Expedia. I remember it being expensive because we booked a couple months before leaving. Our housing was taken care of through school, but we had to make arrangements to pay for it whether it was out-of-pocket, financial aid, loans, etc.
What is it really like to study abroad?
I studied abroad during the summer of my junior year so it was from June to August. I stayed at Norwich House (dorm name) at the University of Sussex. I had my own room (which included a sink too!) and stayed on the same floor as other students who were studying abroad from UC Irvine. The flight to England was good. We had a layover in Amsterdam and landed in London. I actually arrived a couple days prior to orientation so I stayed with a family friend in Leicester. I took a bus to the university when it was time to go for orientation. The room was an interesting set-up. There was a twin bed, a closet, a desk, and a sink all in one room. It took time to get adjusted to, but it was actually pretty convenient. The most common method of transportation was the bus, which I took everywhere. We took the bus to go out on the town or for groceries. It was the quickest and easiest way to get around and I actually really enjoyed it. I had class twice a week, which was also nice. I planned trips on the weekends and spent my time in the city of Brighton during the week.
With only having class twice per week I bet there was a lot of time to explore. What were the highlights?
I loved everything about the trip! From the people to the food to the experiences, it was all so great. Often times when people ask me how my trip was, I say that it was the best two and a half months of my life..because it really was! I loved the British accents, the halal options there were for muslims, the interesting people, the buildings, the views, etc. Brighton is referred to as the “Santa Monica” of England and that’s what it felt like. There were clubs on the beach, pubs on every corner, and so many different types of people you would come across. I also liked the fact that Brighton was a couple hours away from London so we could easily take a bus there to explore. Another thing I enjoyed was how close everything in Europe is. I was able to travel to different countries on the weekend, either by bus or plane. It was very convenient and allowed me to explore many different places.
Were there any lows of the trip?
I don’t think I can recall any lows of the trip.
Any advice for those looking to study abroad or just visit Europe?
My advice would be to take advantage of your time and resources, especially in a different country! I feel like each moment counts and it’s good to make the most of it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad and if given the chance, would re-do it in a second!
You can find Alishba on Instgram @alishbish