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My Study Abroad Experiences at William and Mary

Over 50% of undergraduate students from William & Mary study abroad at some point during their college experience, and we are apparently the number one public university in the country for study abroad. Despite all of these facts and figures, I didn’t expect to study abroad during my undergraduate career. I definitely didn’t expect to study abroad three times. 

One of my favorite things about being at William & Mary has been all of the opportunities and choices for study abroad programs. There really are programs for every length of time, interest level, and part of the world a student could possibly want. I went on three different trips – here’s a little bit more about each of them!

1. Galway, Ireland 

When I went: Summer 2016

Length: 1 month

What I studied: The interactions between Irish and American music, Irish Literature

What I did: On this William & Mary led program, about thirty students from our University took classes at the National University of Ireland, Galway. We also took day trips to sites across Ireland, like the Cliffs of Moher and the Connemara Coastline. 

What I loved: I loved getting close to people from my home university all the while exploring a country I’ve heard so much about but knew so little about the history and the culture before I visited. Ireland is absolutely gorgeous and I’ll never forget the day we spent cycling around the Aran Islands or the night we spent listening to musicians play traditional Irish music in Miltown Malbay. 

2. Paris, France 

When I went: October 2016

Length: 1 week

What I studied: Filmic Paris and its Non-stereotypical Counterparts 

What I did: For my French Cinema course, our class was given the opportunity to spend seven days in Paris, led by our instructor to compare the ways Paris is presented through different forms of media with the real city. Our instructor, born and raised in Paris, took us through Parisian neighborhoods tourists rarely go to, like the Goute D’Or. Each of us also investigated something we identified as a uniquely Parisian phenomenon and studied them to write a blog post. I wrote about Celebrity and Death as it relates to the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery.

What I loved: Everything. This trip was absolutely magical. One week I was in Williamsburg, and the next, I was in Paris, France. Not only did we get to see things in Paris that people rarely look for, my French comprehension improved so significantly I could understand fluent speakers with almost no trouble at all. Also, the éclairs. I could eat a Pistachio éclair every day and never get tired of them. 

3. Nottingham, England 

When I went: Fall 2017

Length: Three months

What I studied: Virginia Woolf, Chaucer, and Contemporary American Literature (Ironic, I know.)

What I did: This trip was my most traditional foray into study abroad. I spent a semester as an exchange student studying at the University of Nottingham. I took three courses, lived on an on campus flat with three of the greatest first years who have ever lived, joined the Creative Writing Society and explored England.

What I loved: Studying at the University of Nottingham was a whirlwind of an experience, and I have so many great memories, it’s almost impossible to choose just one. During this trip, I met people from around the world, was able to travel across the U.K., and explored the ancient and wonderful city of Nottingham. I also carved pumpkins at Halloween, introduced Thanksgiving traditions to my English friends, and ate as many Yorkshire puddings possible at the Christmas markets. Every time I think about Nottingham and my friends there, I miss it! 

William & Mary really does have the perfect study abroad experience for every student. If you’ve ever thought about going abroad, or even if you haven’t, I would highly recommend it! 


Abby is a current senior at William & Mary majoring in English and minoring in French. She plans to attend law school after college. When she isn't in class, she can be found knitting, drinking coffee way too late at night and trying to play frisbee.
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