The university Study Abroad program offers students not only a rewarding education, but also a cultural experience that can change a student’s life.
Adam Shickling, a junior, studied abroad in London his sophomore year from September 2008 to December 2008. “It was an amazing experience. Studying abroad is the best decision I’ve ever made,” Shickling said.
Shickling was introduced to the Study Abroad program from family who had previously gone through the experience, and he knew that this was something he would want to do. “I knew Millersville had a great studying abroad program, and that is a major reason why I chose to come here,” he said.
Not wanting to deal with a language barrier, Shickling juggled between studying in either Australia or London, finally settling on London because of its close proximity to other countries, “which increased my traveling options,” he said. Also, Shickling had visited London in high school and he wanted to experience more of the city.
Before leaving for London Shicklin was “anxious to see the living quarters and see how my classes would be structured.”
However, his anxieties were eased when he met other Millersville students, and got settled into his daily routine. “The flight over was a great chance for us to get know each other and we were all very good friends from there on,” he said.
Shickling stayed in an apartment complex built for international students, and shared a room with a Millersville student. He was able to make friends with students from Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas. Schickling still remains in touch with the Millersville students he studied with, as well as the friends he made from other parts of the U.S.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to gain experience outside of your culture, and delve into a lifestyle completely unlike one’s own. For Shickling, he realized how similar our country is to other European nations. “In London, I cannot recall any serious cultural barriers I had to overcome,” he said. “Politically, European countries are much more liberal than the U.S. so you need to keep that in mind when talking politics with Europeans, and trust me this will be one of their favorite conversations.”
Shickling had a good experience in Europe, and found that most people love talking to Americans, and were willing to help them overcome any language barriers. “As soon as they discover you are American they want to talk about politics and at that time, Barack Obama,” he said.
Classes continue just as they would in the states, and they are much like a regular semester of college. Shickling only took 12 credits to help lighten his workload: A history class, a film class, a government and an economics class. “Education in the U.K. is a lot different than in the U.S.” Shickling said. “There’s more of a focus on personal responsibility and few professors grade attendance. U.K. classes also tend to be more writing-oriented than exam-oriented. For example, I didn’t have a single exam while studying abroad but had seven papers to write.”
Studying abroad also provided an education outside of the classroom. “Traveling puts intense pressure on expanding your independence, sometimes you’re going to be walking around a foreign city alone and you need to know how to protect yourself and get around safely.
Shickling’s study abroad experience is one that he will never forget; there were many sites that he was able to see, such as the Tower Bridge in London, Heidelberg Castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. One of his favorite memories happened in the Netherlands, “A bunch of us rented bicycles on day in the Netherlands. It was amazing riding past windmills and over canals,” he said.
Shickling still misses the history and the nightlife of London. “It was really something to walk past castles and bridges older than the United States on Your way to class,” he said.
All of the excitement, schoolwork, and traveling kept him busy, so he never had time to get homesick or think about home. However, he was able to stay connected to his friends and family by buying a prepaid cellphone.
“It only cost a couple cents a minute to call the U.S.,” he said. “A lot of my friends used Skype to keep in contact with their families.”
One problem that he did run into was the five-hour time difference between London and the East Coast.
Returning to the states was a strange experience for Shickling, but it only took him a few weeks to get back into his old routine. His experience was a great one, and he would advise students to “absolutely do it.”
For more information about the Study Abroad program, contact Stacey Bainbridge at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the Cumberland House. Applications to study abroad for summer 2010, or fall 2010 are due by February 19 at 4:30 p.m.