During the spring of 2019, I was thankfully able to study at the University of Reading, which was my first pick when applying for study abroad. The school was located about 30 minutes outside of London so it was as close as I could get to my favorite city, my happy place, and a place I always love to visit. This school was also 40 minutes away from my family who live in London so it allowed me to connect and get to know them better in the six months I was abroad. This experience was definitely full of lifetime memories and something I will always cherish. Looking back, I wish my study abroad experience was longer so that I could create further bonds, go out with friends more, and just create new memories.
Despite the experience being several months ago, many of the friends I made still keep in touch on our various group chats. We check in on each other and also share memories and how much we miss one another. These bonds will always be close to me as we, mostly, all were from different places and did not know what it was like to be so far away from our family, friends, and the way of life we were used to. Because of this, we all become close with each other so that we can push ourselves, often meeting for lunch, forming study groups, to grab a cup of coffee, to go into downtown Reading, or take a trip within England or even other European countries. One of the most memorable trips I had with my new friends that I met while at Reading was about 30 minutes away, to Oxford, England. My Friend Theodora, Will, and I all took the trip one of the first weekends of being abroad as we wanted to see Oxford University and the city. We ended up taking a tour of the ancient castle and jail within the city, which also doubled as a background to the city. While there, we were selected to participate in the animated stories which created laughter and memories we still talk about. We also took a group picture of a “mug shot” with a silly crime that kids were often locked up in this jail for, ours was stealing a snuff box. We ended up buying this picture so we each could have it and look back at the fun, which was a great decoration for my apartment.
While on this trip, we also had an authentic British meal, meat pies, at a pub. While this wasn’t my first time having this, it was theirs and it was cool to bond and talk about how we enjoyed the day exploring a new place. While studying abroad, I also took advantage of the close airports and visited numerous countries within Europe, exploring where many of my ancestors grew up and many places I have learned and seen pictures of but never have been to myself.
Studying abroad was a dream of mine since freshman year in high school and I never thought it was possible. Despite being nervous about moving so far, adjusting, and the logistics of being gone for so long, I can say this was the best experience I have ever had. I am forever thankful for the lifelong memories that were created and the irreplaceable bonds I now have with the people I studied with. The decision to study abroad was the best I have ever made, and I will always encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity.
-Cameron Carr, Exchange at University of Reading, Spring 2019