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 was 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