Submitted by Rachel Spruill on the 2021 fall semester program in London, England…
It’s easy to think that students choose to study abroad to feel like they’re on vacation, where all they think of is where to go and what to do next. In reality, though, when you study abroad, academic rigor follows you. As a seasoned World Scholar, I knew this when I chose to be in London this fall. It’s extremely easy for me to get “tunnel vision” and have all of my time consumed with work, and while I’m glad to be disciplined, it’s also important that I make efforts to ensure the global engagement piece of study abroad is fulfilled.
Last weekend, my flat-mates and I took a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover. We brought some picnic essentials—lunch, some snacks, a blanket—and spent the whole day on the cliffs enjoying the last bit of warmth in England. After a fast-paced week of work, a day of relaxation was exactly what we needed to alleviate our stress. At the cliffs, life slowed down; for hours, we watched the clouds, shared food, and admired the incredible view (we could see France on the other side of the water!). I wouldn’t say that picnics are common at the cliffs, so naturally, we attracted the attention of some passersby, and this led to new connections with locals who were hiking. We talked to new people, pet their dogs, and learned a lot about the area we were visiting. To finish off the day, I hiked down to the water to watch the sunset.
That day reminded us of why we chose to study abroad. We did not come all the way to London to have a traditional college experience or to merely “bounce” between our flat and school; we came here to see things, make meaningful connections, and make memories. That day, my flat-mates and I made an agreement to not let “tunnel vision” get in the way of the purpose of study abroad. As a World Scholar, I have to make sure I give the “World” part as much value as the “Scholar”.