I Studied Abroad in England, Then I Went Back, Now I’m Looking at Grad Schools There

Last spring, 2019, I spent a semester abroad in the city of Birmingham in the UK. To say the very least, it started off really rocky and I didn’t do too well academically but, I finished strong, made some amazing friends and fell in love with a culture, and a climate. I hadn’t even been back home for a week when I started thinking about going back for a visit. Within a month I had booked a plane ticket to London. I had found a really good deal and had a free place to stay. I was going to be there during the holidays which meant spending Christmas and New Year away from my family for the first time. By the end of my trip, I again had no desire to return home and started looking at internships and grad programs abroad. 

For several years, I had dreamed about studying abroad, I tried to do it in highschool and when the opportunity arose to do it in college, I took the chance and flew with it. I was not sure where I wanted to go at first, but I knew that my previous attempts at learning a language had crashed and burned, hard. So, I turned to England where I knew I would do, alright. I planned for a long time, the paperwork was rocky and annoying, but when I got my acceptance letter from the University of Birmingham on Halloween night 2018, I turned to the person I was dating at the time and started crying because I was so happy. That letter meant that the following spring I was going to be wet and cold for nearly 3 months before I started feeling warmth in my toes again. It also meant that my relationship was likely going to come to an end as I really started to find out what I wanted to do with my life.

It was in England where I discovered that I was pursuing the wrong major. I was taking classes in Math, my major at the time, and classes in Art History, my true passion. To put it simply, I passed the Art History classes. As a result it will always have a special place in my heart as I visited several art museums and admired that I could go sit in front of a Monet or Van Gogh painting whenever I wanted as the campus gallery has one of each in their permanent collection as well as some other absolutely amazing art. Birmingham also has several galleries and a fantastic art neighborhood.

When I left it was about a month after my very difficult breakup and I felt like I had missed out on a lot of what England, and Europe had to offer. I had spent a lot of time in my flat feeling lonely and cold. I had spent a lot of time wishing my boyfriend was there counting down the days until I got to see him again. To be frank, I never did get to see him again and when my last month flew by I regretted spending four months the way I had. I did as much as I could including taking a trip by myself to go see Durdle Door, an amazing landmark on the southern coast that Monet painted. I wanted to go back and experience more and get more time to relax and experience more of the culture. Including finally visiting the iconic pub chain Wetherspoons (Spoons). 

By the end of the next month I had booked plane tickets to go back to England during winter break. In the long run, returning to England was the best and probably the most expensive decision I could have made for myself. Because now I am looking at Graduate School programs in England and much to my surprise, many of them are very short and pretty affordable. One of my best friends who is a year above me is doing the very same thing and we are both very excited for it. Returning to England for Grad School would also mean seeing my friend there again who promised to hunt me down if I didn’t return. I am so glad I went, I recommend studying abroad and travelling if you can. Save your money, work hard and just take a leap. It may be hard and you may experience some loneliness and culture shock. But in the end it is amazing and will be some of the most memorable and life altering times of your life.