My Study Abroad Experience in England

This spring of 2019, I had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad at the University of Reading, located just 30 minutes away from the beautiful city of London. I can say that this experience waZara Ibrahims nothing short of amazing. Although I had been to England before, living there was a completely new experience.

Reading is a small town yet it has everything you need. Within a 10 minute bus ride you could reach the mall, movies, grocery stores, restaurants, museums, cathedral and even the train station. One thing I really loved about living in Reading was the weather. I had been looking for a way to escape the Texas heat and experiencing cold weather for most of my time was pretty great.
School wise, I found the education system much more relaxed. My classes would only meet once a week, and we were given a longer time frame to complete assignments, if any. The big difference was that classes were focused on independent study so there weren’t many assignments or reviews before exams to prepare you but you were given a lot of time to study. I really enjoyed my classes and learning amongst British locals and immersing myself into their culture. During my semester, I made friends with exchange students from Korea, China, Japan, France, Australia, Germany and Belgium. Meeting people from different parts of the world was definitely one the best parts of the whole experience. There were also short trips and on campus events planned for exchange students so there was always something to do.

One thing I really liked about the UK was the public transportation. The local buses, trains, and underground made it easy to navigate through England. I visited London numerous times, being that it was a close distance from Reading. The trains to London would run every 5 minutes which was super convenient in case you missed your train. Visiting London was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. Being that it is very vibrant, full of history and beautiful architecture, with every street having its own beauty, and just having so much to do and explore. I got to see so much in London but it still felt like I only saw a small part considering how much it has to offer. I was also able to take day trips to see Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, Dover, and other cities in England. Apart from exploring England, I had the opportunity to travel to places such as Scotland, Spain, and Austria.

Studying abroad had always been a dream of mine and getting the opportunity to partake in this experience was truly wonderful. I am so thankful for this opportunity for giving me confidence, a sense of independence, a new global perspective, a stronger passion for traveling, and a lifetime of memories that will forever be cherished. I can now say studying abroad was the best decision of my life.

-Zara Ibrahim, Exchange at University of Reading, Spring 2019

Advice for Interning Abroad

Haley Ziomek

I was fortunate enough to spend 4 amazing weeks interning abroad in Madrid, Spain. There was A LOT I had to figure out on my own and a lot I wish someone had told me before I went. I have compiled a list of tips and tricks for anyone interested in interning abroad (some of this probably applies to domestic internships as well) that I encourage you to read and consider:

1. If you’re thinking of interning abroad, but you’re nervous: DO IT! As long as you have financial capability, I highly encourage everyone to take the chance while they are in college because it’s an amazing experience and one that you will probably never get again.

2. Four weeks is not long enough to truly get into the job experience because it takes two weeks to actually get into the workflow and then you’re getting ready to leave by the time you get adjusted. My internship was 4 weeks and while I had plenty of time for travelling and seeing the city, I felt I needed at least another month to get the best internship experience I could have had.

3. Interns do much of the same work no matter where you are and what the industry is. Be prepared for data entry in Microsoft Excel and a lot of research.

4. Look for internship programs that have partial board available so you don’t have to spend all your money on food. You want to be able to eat a few meals out, but not every meal of every day because that will take away from the amount you can spend on things that will last longer than food like souvenirs and shopping.

5. Reach out to people that have done specific programs or companies you’re looking at to make sure the picture perfect image you’re seeing online is true and accurate. There might be something about the program that people are hesitant to post online, but would happily tell you by phone or email. However, some programs can be good even if there’s not a lot of information about them on the web.

6. Go and do the internship even if you don’t know anybody. I went without anybody from my school or even my state, but I made friends quickly in my program because we were all thrown into the same situation.

7. Take advantage of your time because it truly flies by in an instant. Trust me. The first week may seem really slow while you’re adjusting to the new culture and surroundings, but the second, third, and consecutive weeks go by so quickly you’re left dumbfounded at how it happened so quickly.

8. Try to budget, but don’t worry if you spend a little more than planned. You can always work more when you get home to make up the money, but you probably won’t get the chance to buy a souvenir or some pants from (insert country name here) again.

9. Make friends in your program and locally! There will be a lot of free time and you’ll want people to meet for lunch or with whom you just want to chat. Perks of local friends are an inside look at the city and sometimes cheaper ways to have fun.

10. Make friends with your coworkers. Even if you don’t speak their language, try to interact with them because it will make your work experience better (and a good way to network). Talk to them if you can even using gestures or…gasp…Google Translate. This includes your boss if he or she is not too busy.

11. If you have something listed on the resume you sent your boss, brush up on those skills! I had Photoshop on my resume because I took a college course on it, but it had been a while since I used it. My boss asked me during the first week to use photoshop to create some images for him and I had to search some Youtube tutorials because I forgot how to do certain shortcuts!

12. Ask for more work, but only if you’ve finished your other work to a good standard. Don’t think the little tasks or data entry is pointless. Do your work well and ask for more because you’re ultimately there to help the company with whatever they need you to do. You never know if that task you’re working on might be displayed on the company’s website which is a fantastic thing to show future employers.

13. Don’t turn down a coffee or lunch break with your boss or coworkers. It’s another way to show them you’re serious about your job and another way to connect with them.

14. Go meet other interns in your program for lunch! It’s fun to see the work place and surrounding environment of other people in your program!

Haley Ziomek2

15. Bring your own laptop (if you can). This makes it possible to work in a familiar space and not have to mess with foreign keyboards. Even if your work says they can provide you one, bring your own.

16. Always dress well and professional even if your colleagues don’t. You aren’t just representing yourself, but your country, school, program, and the company’s decision to possibly host more interns in the future.

17. Pack enough outfits to change out of your work clothes, but not too many that you won’t have room to bring any new stuff back. If your residence doesn’t have a washer and dryer, you can buy detergent at the store and wash clothes in your bathroom sink or shower.

18. DON’T worry about your diet (too much), but DO find time to walk around the city or workout. Get that extra scoop of gelato. Eat that plate of patatas fritas. Do what the locals do because you only have a limited amount of time. You don’t want to regret not trying something because you might have gained one pound in a day. You might not get the chance again because you probably don’t have this kind of food at home.

19. Be aware that your routine won’t be the same. It doesn’t mean you can’t try, but just know that it will change. I’m an athlete and had set workouts during my time abroad, but I had to switch the order of some of them due to my schedule. Know that you’ll have an amazing opportunity to live and work in another country, but find time to continue to do what makes you happy for your daily routine.

20. Don’t spend too much time napping in your room. It’s okay to do it a few times, but go out and see the world! Even if you’re tired or by yourself, you went abroad to push your limits of comfort and explore a different place. Find your own way. Ask locals for help-they won’t mind. You’ll regret it if you don’t. You can sleep when you get home.

21. Use your free time wisely. It’s worth the investment to intern abroad if you’re program guarantees some free time outside of work to travel and see parts of your program destination because the last thing you’d want is to spend so much time in a cool place and not have been able to do anything other than work.

22. Adapters for outlets and a portable charger are a must! You can find cheap ones on Amazon.

23. Consider getting a local sim card for your phone when you’re there because it’s usually cheaper than extending your service plan from your home country. You can’t call anyone from home, but you can still Facetime or use any messaging over Wifi free of charge.

24. Bring snacks from home and don’t eat them all in the first week! You’ll want them especially towards the end of your program!

25. Just like at college, don’t forget to keep talking to your friends and family and ask for pictures of your dogs. Even if you’re having a great time, they will miss you and you, them. A short facetime can bring you a lot of comfort when you’re by yourself thousands of miles away.

26. Be thankful for your opportunity and absorb all you can for your experience

Good luck and congrats on deciding to intern abroad! You will do great!

-Haley Ziomek, Internship in Spain, Summer 2019

When in the Streets of Sevilla

Shraddha Trehan

I should start off this post by explicitly stating that I am an incredibly blessed and fortunate girl, and I know that especially in this moment. I have returned from a trip in a place that felt like it was on the complete opposite side of the world. And I cannot stress this enough when I write: many people travel many places during their lives, but only a few get to travel during their college years and experience something that literally changes their lives; if you get the chance to change your life for the better, you should do it.

I remember when I first set off for Spain I felt both entirely relieved and jarred. Relieved because I was FINALLY going; Jarred because I was finally GOING. I was unsure of what this trip would hold, but I remember idealistically thinking that it could only be good things. I justified it with the thought that this trip could bring out only the best in me and thus could be only the best for me. For me, this trip represented and still represents the best of living — the ability to learn.

Once the trip began, of course, there were many ups and downs, lefts and rights. As soon as my group and I set foot on Spanish soil things became busy but in an incredibly fascinating and whirlwind kind of way. I remember Steven (Global Ed’s Director) telling us during our Welcome Orientation that at the beginning of this trip we were in our “Honeymoon” phase of this study abroad and that soon we would fade out of this feeling and just feel normal, if not a little sad, before (hopefully) re-entering an excited state at the end of the experience. However, if I can be honest, I never stopped feeling like I was on my “Honeymoon” — I liked Sevilla when I got there, but I loved it when I left.

If you get the chance to go to Sevilla you’ll be able to see right away why people fall in love with the city. To tell you all it is beautiful is not giving Sevilla justice. This place is absolutely breathtaking; no wonder people stay here forever. I can assure you all right now that this architecture, these streets, and this phenomenal fashion will continue to astonish and amaze you every single day that you are there as it did me while I was. More than anything, the memory that is most ingrained in my mind of Sevilla is the feeling of sunglasses behind my ears, the ache in my feet from walking around for miles and miles all around Spain, and the smile that rested on my face after every single very long but wonder-full days.

It is so strange how time flies so quickly while you are on your study abroad. You get caught up in your internship where the Doctors and Doctoras show you that medicine is much more than medical school, the nurses show you that a team is much more than its leader, and the hospital itself helps you realize that the work environment you wish to be in for the rest of your life really is where you belong. You get caught up in the country and the city and the beauty around you; visiting place after place: Seville, Italica, Cádiz, Granada, Madrid, Segovia, Córdoba. You get caught up in the whole lifetime of a month that you are there because you realize that family is so much more than blood and the bond of Spain will tie you together with people who were once strangers for the rest of your lives no matter where you all are in the world.

But then, it’s your last day, and you take a moment to remember. You take a moment to breathe and think and cherish. You take a moment for gelato and for walking and for sunsets and for the river and for parks and for dancing and for laughter and for light and for Spain and for this, your study abroad experience. And you are thankful, so very thankful for it all.

For me, a study abroad was much more than a traveling experience. It was THE experience of a lifetime. It represents memories made and dreams come true. If you get the chance to change your life for the better, you should do it.

-Shraddha Trehan, Medical Spanish and Internship, Summer 2019

LSE Summer School Experience

London is truly the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city in the world. I was breath-taken as soon as I landed into Heathrow Airport right up until the last night I was there when I stayed out until 3 AM walking around and enjoying my time with the best people. In order to gain a taste of study abroad as well as enhance my career portfolio, I decided to take an intensive three-week course called Alternative Investments at the London School of Economics. There, I met soNikhil Gotgime of the brightest and most successful students from all around the world and was taught by renowned professors. I had never thought it was possible to learn so much in such a short time, and I never realized that I could ever make lifelong friends in just three weeks. From studying together to eating at a restaurant at 2 AM, I could not be more grateful for this experience. It is something that I will hold dear to my heart forever, and I am already looking forward to my next trip to London. I am extremely grateful for the UTD staff and the study abroad office for providing me with financial aid and scholarships to gain insight into other cultures, and I truly recommend and advise everyone to study abroad whenever possible. Seeing the world by yourself has remarkable effects on your life, including finding yourself, realizing what you want to do with your life, experience new cultures and try everything that comes with that culture, and meet some of the best people from all over the world. Education is something that ties people from all over together, and my experience at LSE was nothing short of that.

-Nikhil Gotgi, London School of Economics, Summer 2019