Hey guys! My name is Julianne Lewis and I am finishing up my senior year, graduating in December. I’m studying Biological Sciences with minors in psychology and Spanish. I studied abroad for a semester in Leeds, England in spring 2019. I would have also loved to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country, but I had already finished all of my Spanish courses at that point in time. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, especially England, which led me to the program I attended at University of Leeds!
My biggest fear before going abroad was that I would have a hard time meeting new people and making good friends. The study abroad program at Leeds held an orientation day for all of the exchange students which is where I met all the people I ended up being very close with. Although I made a lot of friends, I spent a good amount of time abroad. My semester abroad truly helped me to be at peace with myself and understand that being alone does not mean that you are lonely.
I struggled with generally figuring things out at first. Things like public transportation, navigating the grocery store, understanding common slang I wasn’t familiar with etc. Being in situations when I didn’t know how to pay for the bus or got confused in airports when traveling were times where I felt uncomfortable, confused, or maybe even a little hopeless. But in those times of discomfort and feeling like I had no idea what I was doing is when I think I really grew as a person. I truly believe that without these challenges, I would not be as independent nor resourceful as I am now. It definitely sounds cheesy and something that everyone says after they study abroad but it really is true that you discover who you are and who you are meant to be.
The academic style in Leeds definitely differed from that at NC State. Most of my courses only had 1-2 grades that dictated my entire grade. This was intimidating at first, but I realized that with just a few adjustments to my typical study habits, I could successfully stay up to speed in class and still earn good grades. I took a normal course load with some upper level science classes and some GEP courses to fulfill requirements for graduation. I loved getting to experience a different style of learning and changing my ways of thinking in order to be successful in my classes.
Going abroad for a semester was one of the best decisions I ever made. I can honestly say that studying abroad made me a better student, broadened my perspective on different cultures and environments, and allowed for so much personal growth. I am so thankful for the NC State Study Abroad for the experiences I had, life lessons I have learned and for the opportunity to stay involved in the Study Abroad program as a Pack Abroad Ambassador.
This post was originally published in Study Abroad.