More about Rebecca
Where did you complete your year studying abroad?
In August 2019, I went on a yearlong exchange in the US studying at the University of Vermont. The University of Vermont itself is this beautiful, sustainable, campus-based university; offering a wide range of courses. The US is notorious for its sport and sporting opportunities and due to studying a sport-based degree, this was the main reason for choosing this location.
What did your year consist of?
The yearlong exchange allowed me to study at an American institution taking on an array of classes related to my degree. Some of the classes I took were; Exercise Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Philosophy of Sport, Sport Management, Fitness Education, etc. This allowed me to not only expand my knowledge on all areas surrounding sport, but it enabled me to explore potential career paths.
What did you do outside of classes during your time abroad?
I joined the Vermont Rowing team where I competed at various regattas across the country and went on a spring break trip in North Carolina. The trip involved a weeklong training camp in preparation for Nationals, however due to Covid-19 these were unfortunately cancelled. I met some of my closest friends through joining the team, and it was also cool to be able to compete for a university in America.
I also took part in some cultural trips, such as going to an American member of staff’s house for thanksgiving so I could experience one of their national holidays! The university also offered trips for the international students such as a snow sports day where I got to go cross country skiing, snow biking and try various other snow sports.
What have you gained from your year abroad?
On reflection of my trip not only did I benefit academically and expand my knowledge, but I think the most important take away form this was my personal growth throughout the year. I came back excited and passionate to learn. It gave me drive and focus to take into my final year of university, as well as pointing me in the direction of potential career paths.
Additionally, going to a university which is extremely sustainable, has changed the way I live my life. I learnt so much about sustainability and since then I have been driven away from single use plastic as well as buying from environmentally friendly companies.
What was the best part of the year?
The best part of the trip was meeting people from all around the world and building connections/friendships that will last a lifetime. I was not only able to integrate myself into the American culture, but also learn about other cultures from around the world and learn new languages like Japanese.
The main highlight of my trip was competing in Rowing at the ‘Head of the Snake’ regatta in Massachusetts, the adrenaline rush and hype my team got from competing was like no other. As a sports team you go through highs and lows together, but they truly made my experience in the US and it was so sad to leave.
What was the hardest part about your year abroad?
The hardest part was saying goodbye. It was that sort of bitter-sweet feeling of not wanting to leave but knowing that the memories you’ve made will stick with you for life.
How did you cope with being so far from home?
I thought I would struggle with the aspect of being so far away from home, but due to having so much fun and being busy 24/7 I never had that feeling. The support networks I had out there also made it easier to transition into a new university as there were members of staff and other students you could contact in case you had any worries; it gave us a sort of ‘international student family’.
How did you arrange your year abroad?
At the start of my 1st year of university I knew that I wanted to study abroad. After emailing around, I found myself in contact with the global lounge who pointed me in the direction of the International Student Exchange Programme (ISEP), who are responsible for making it possible for students to study abroad. They narrow down the universities you can apply to based upon the location/course/course length and you choose to from a list of universities. I chose 8-10 universities I was interested in, and ISEP aim to base you at one of those institutions. I found out in March 2019 what institution I was going to, and the final step was to choose the classes I wanted to take.
Did Covid-19 impact your time? How so?
Unfortunately, in March, due to Covid19 my year-long exchange was cut short and meant that I had to return to the UK. Therefore, I missed out on a lot of the travelling I was going to do, and I had to say goodbye to some of my closest friends. When I returned to the UK, I carried on with my studies online and finished my exchange in May 2020.
Would you recommend a year studying abroad to other students?
Honestly, I can’t express enough how much I recommend taking on this experience. You learn so much no only about another cultures/countries, but you learn so much about yourself in terms of being more independent and having to adapt to an unknown environment.