The End of an Adventure Abroad

This post is the final installment from Allie Press who spent her Spring 2015 semester on exchange at Falmouth University in Falmouth, England.

I am in my last days in Falmouth, UK, and of course now I get sick. Though, I suppose now is the best time since I have no schoolwork or anything to get done. I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my friends here and doing a few last things. It’s been difficult saying goodbye to all of the friends I have made. They welcomed me into their circle and made me feel like a part of the gang. Without them, I would not have enjoyed my semester here nearly as much. I went through some hard times while here and they helped me through them.

"Agati and me enjoying our free pint of Guinness at the Storehouse bar, Gravity."

“Agati and me enjoying our free pint of Guinness at the Storehouse bar, Gravity.”

To take advantage of the ease of travel I took a few trips this last month. First off, I went to Dublin, Ireland with my friend Agati from my acting course. We spent three days there and had a really great time. Dublin reminded me a lot of New York City. It has some beautiful gardens mixed in with the shops and restaurants, and it can be super tourist-y. However, if you listen to the locals you can find great pubs and restaurants that are more authentic. While in Dublin, Agati and I stayed at Jacob’s Inn, a hostel within walking distance from everything you’d want to see. It was clean and friendly. I highly recommend it. My favorite places that we went were St Stephen’s Green, Marion Square, and the Guinness Storehouse. We were really lucky with the weather and spent a whole afternoon sunbathing at St Stephen’s.        After Ireland, I went to Paris, France by myself. I was definitely nervous going on a trip alone, and for four whole days, but it ended up being amazing. The weather was hot and sunny the whole time I was there, which I loved. It’s still quite mild here in Falmouth so it was actually great getting a little sweaty. I pretty much spent my entire trip between museums and parks, which was exactly what I wanted. The last time I was in Paris I was with family and we were so focused on hitting all of the tourist spots that we didn’t get too much time to relax. So I wanted to simply enjoy my time in the city and get to whatever I happened to get to. The first night I was there I spent too much time at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle that I wasn’t going to make it to La Cinémathèque française so I made the snap decision to go see a play. I didn’t understand everything, but it was still cool seeing theatre in another country. Quick decisions like that were what made traveling alone so great. I was able to be completely selfish and simply do whatever I wanted to do. I would recommend a trip alone to anyone, especially if you are going through a change in your life. I wrote in my journal everyday while I was in Paris. It felt good to have some solitude to reflect.

"I met a lovely family from Texas while trying to find the passage to L'Arc de Triomphe. This is me with their adorable daughter."

“I met a lovely family from Texas while trying to find the passage to L’Arc de Triomphe. This is me with their adorable daughter.”

I know I am not going back to the States the same person I left. I like to think I have improved during my time here. Meeting new people, traveling always expands your horizons, and I think that kind of worldly view is important. It helps us to think outside of ourselves. I’ve been happier here than I’ve been in a year. Sometimes it takes being a continent away from all of your problems, past or present, to gain some perspective and learn about yourself. While in abroad I’ve been reminded how much I love nature, how happy I am spending a day lying in the grass in the sun. I won’t forget that. When I get home I am going to make sure to visit parks and spend time outside more. While abroad I learned to cook, I’ve become addicted to the gym, and I’ve overall become a more relaxed person. I am immeasurably grateful for this experience and I know I’ll be leaving a piece of my heart here in Falifornia.

Towson Abroad: On-Site in England & Scotland

This post comes from our Associate Director Kelly Holland who recently visited our partner schools in England and Scotland. Be sure to scroll down and check our her beautiful pictures at the end of the post!

This past July I was fortunate to visit ten of our partner schools in the United Kingdom. From central London to northeastern Newcastle to coastal Dundee, I got a firsthand look at the universities where our students study and the cities they call their home away from home. Below you’ll find just a few details about the schools I visited, and some photos .. of course.

LEEDS, ENGLAND

In the city of Leeds, 2.5 hours north of London, I visited two of our most popular schools: Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University. Leeds is delightful city – walkable and winding through both campuses and home to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France this summer! Both schools have a wide variety of coursework available and modern, exciting facilities. Leeds Uni would be best suited to a student looking for a campus feel in a city location and Leeds Met is a great exchange option for our in-state students.

LONDON, ENGLAND

In London there are many schools that we work with, but two I visited in particular. One being Middlesex University where TU students can study for a full academic year on exchange, and the second being the AIFS campus of Richmond, the American International University in London. Both are small, compact campuses, Middlesex north of the city and full of international students and Richmond tucked into one of my favorite neighborhoods: Kensington Gardens, smack in the middle of London. AIFS Richmond is a great fit for students looking for electives in short or long term programs and Middlesex is an inexpensive option for the long haul.

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND

Traveling to Northeastern England by train was beautiful, and the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland are well connected by train and metro. Newcastle University has an urban feel and is tucked into the city with a population of 21,000 students. Newcastle is highly ranked in the UK and has a variety of coursework available to TU students.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND

A short metro ride from bustling Newcastle is University of Sunderland, a truly creative space. Home to one of the only on-campus radio stations in the UK (so they say) SPARK Sunderland is home to radio, television and journalism students. With two campuses (City Campus and St. Peter’s Campus) within walking distance of each other, students can appreciate the city and the university. I was most impressed by the Sports Science facilities including a large technical space for biometrics testing, as well as the National Glass Centre which is open for students and the public alike. Fantastic option for exchange!

EXETER, ENGLAND

One of my new favorite cities in the UK, Exeter sits in the southwest of England, a 2.5 hour train ride from London. The campus is up on a hill overlooking this classic English town and Exeter University is ranked among the Top 10 in the UK. With a mix of old and new buildings across campus I really enjoyed the student union (Forum). Full of resources, activities, food and student support it is a bright, open space where students can learn, relax and meet up. This is a great choice for exchange!

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

While the city was preparing for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I snuck in to visit Strathclyde University. Towson also partners with nearby Glasgow University, just outside the city center. Strathclyde is an urban campus, with buildings in and around a bustling city center. Strathclyde’s Business School is triple accredited, including accreditation by the AACSB (just like Towson) – which is a great match for our students. The science facilities are tremendous with plenty of research spaces and labs for both science and computing. A good find for a Business student or a STEM student.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

With Edinburgh castle looming at the top of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Napier University is home to three campuses: Sighthill (Health, Life and Social Sciences), Craiglockart (Business School) and Merchiston (Engineering, Computing & Creative Industries). Students can take courses across the campuses and most recently we had a TU student studying in Business and Communications in this historical gem of a city. Another solid choice in Scotland.

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND

Hanging onto the Northeastern coast of Scotland is the city of Dundee and Dundee University. This is a small university with 18,000 students and a curriculum well known for medicine and sciences. I would not consider this an urban campus as the area is very quiet and the campus is contained in one area. This campus is good for a student looking for a more community feel.

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Q&A Spotlight: Arielle Silverman

Name: Arielle Silverman
Major: Family and Human Services
Hometown: Westfield, New Jersey
Destination: London, England
Institution: GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, Kingston University.

Q1: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?

Honestly, this is a tough question to answer. I am a food ADDICT, so eating was one of my favorite activities while I was abroad. By the way, I studied in England. Did everyone’s mouths just drop all the way to their keyboards after reading how much I enjoyed eating in the UK? Before I left, everyone I encountered warned me about how awful the food in England was, so the days leading up to my trip I was convinced that I was going to starve to death. Contrary to popular belief, England does have some noteworthy foods (at least in my opinion).

Alright, best dish. HOW CAN I PICK?! I’ll narrow it down to four things: Indian food, kebabs, Nando’s, and chips (fries). I’d go into excessive detail explaining each and every one, but I think people would rather not read three pages of my food obsession…(maybe I’ll expand on my own blog).

Now for the worst- I don’t know if I can pick one, mostly because there are so many English foods that are just repulsive looking and are probably what you’d think of when you hear someone mention England.

Q2: What was your favorite spot in your home away from home? Why?

London is so wonderful that I can think of hundreds of favorite spots, but I do have a couple that will always stick out in my mind. I went to a university in a town called Kingston Upon Thames, which is 20 minutes outside of central London by train. The town was absolutely adorable. There were stores, restaurants, and pubs, and it was the type of town that had sections of just pedestrian walkways, which usually meant there were always a lot of different street performers or people playing music or singing. To top it off, there was a market in one part of town that was set up every day, and walking by you could always hear vendors yelling things like, “Get your strawberries!” or “Fresh avocados for only a pound!” I always felt like I was in a movie or something, strolling down those streets and taking it all in: the sights, the people, the voices, and the smells. I didn’t want to forget any of it.

Besides the town in general being one of my favorite places, there was another spot that to this day, will always have a place in my mind. It was a pub in Kingston called The Kings Tun. I was only in Kingston for a day before my friends and I found it, thanks to our waitress at TGI Fridays. My friends and I spent many hours there over the course of our time abroad. It was a place where we all got to know each other, met other people, bonded, danced, and made memories. And as corny as it is, it’s definitely one of my favorite places.

Q4: Are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?

PIGEONS. Pigeons, pigeons, pigeons. When I decided upon living near London, I had no idea that I was signing up for being swarmed with those evil little creatures on a daily basis. The thing about pigeons is that they’re scared of nothing. Sure, they’ll run away if you chase them, but they are not above flying straight into your face if you happen to be in their path of flight. They’re horrible and I despise them.

I guess another thing I don’t really miss about London was the complete lack of etiquette while walking. I didn’t experience this anywhere else, but I’ll try to explain it like this: you know when you’re walking down the street, and you’re walking towards someone coming from the opposite direction, and the two of you don’t really know who’s going to go which way, so you do that awkward little dance thing before you finally maneuver around each other and go on your merry ways? Yeah, London folks don’t do that. Instead, they assume that you will move clear out of their way. If you don’t, they do not care. You’ll be rammed into as if you just hit a brick wall. It happened to me way too many times to count.

Oh, and I also don’t miss the rain. It rains a lot. But not the way you would expect it, no. If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling, and if it’s not drizzling, it’s misting. And it happens when you least expect it, so the key is to always have an umbrella handy. Always.

Q5: What do you miss about England?

The amount of things I’m homesick for from abroad is unhealthy. I’ll just make a list.

1. GOOD tea. We just don’t make it like they do over there.

2. Primark. Primark is a godsend. Imagine Forever 21 x100 and you’ll get Primark. The clothes are cheap (and when I say cheap I mean quality and price), cute, and did I say cheap?

3. Cadbury. Cadbury is everything. I miss those little dairy milks.

4. Pub atmosphere. This is something that American culture does not have. It’s not about drinking. It’s about going to the pub and meeting your friends after class. It’s about spending time with people you care about and forming friendships you’ll never forget.

5. Free museums. As far as I know, almost all of the museums in London are free. This made traveling easier, as I was able to go in and out of museum after museum whenever I wanted.

6. Markets. There are so many markets in London. Camden Town is probably one of the most popular markets (at least it was in my friend group), but there are loads all over and they are just so much fun to explore.

Q6: What new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?

Cheeky. I can’t really explain what this means, but if someone were being sarcastic or playfully teasing, you’d call them cheeky.

Dodgy. When something is sketchy.

Chips. Fries.

Cheers, mate.” Us Americans would probably say something like, “thanks, dude!”

“You alright?” The first time someone ever said this to me, I looked at them with a blank stare on my face. I thought to myself, “Do I look upset? I feel fine, why is he asking me if I’m okay?” Clearly, it does not mean what we usually take it to mean. Instead, this saying is sometimes used in place of, “how are you?”

Lovely. Okay, so it’s not really new, but Brits use the word lovely so much. It’s just lovely.

Fit. This is another way of saying you think someone is hot (as in attractive).

Bird. This refers to a girl. Similar to the word “chick.”

Smart. If someone looked smart, they’d most likely be pretty dressed up and looking super fancy. In the words of Drake, “Oh you fancy huh?”

Fancy-dress. Refers to a costume, like you’d wear on Halloween or to a themed party.

Boot. The trunk of a car.

Hob. Stove

Lift. Most people know this one, but in case you don’t, it’s another word for elevator.

Trolley. It’s what you would use if you were going shopping at Target. (It’s a cart).

Uni. Short for university. They don’t say college, unless they’re actually in college, which is a whole different thing than uni, but that’s irrelevant.

Q8: Where did you go on your breaks? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?

Well, my experience was a little different than the way most people travel when they are abroad. I didn’t make too many weekend trips. I actually only went on two, if you don’t include Spring Break. The first place my friends and I went to was Dublin, Ireland. I’m not really sure how we chose this one, but if I remember correctly, I’m pretty positive one of my friends said, “I want to go to Ireland. Let’s go.” So we picked a weekend and booked the flight that day.  The second trip my other friend and I went on was to Barcelona. We had been talking about going since the beginning of the semester. May was quickly approaching, but I had been doing some research, so we finally booked our flight a couple of weeks ahead, booked a hostel our friends told us about and went for four days. It was wonderful.

Spring break worked out in a similar manner. My parents actually came to see me during my spring break and we traveled around Britain. When they left, I took the Eurostar and ended my break in Paris.

Now, there’s a reason I say my experience was a little different. Before I went abroad, my mom and I were talking about the places I wanted to travel while I was over there. She told me that after her semester, she traveled around Europe for a couple of weeks before going back home. One day she asked me, “So when you go, you’re going to stay a couple more weeks and travel right?” I hadn’t even thought about it, but she was offering, and I wasn’t saying no. I didn’t have a clue who I would travel with, and at first I was hoping to just meet someone while I was abroad that would want to do the same thing. Eventually, it was decided that my best friend from home would fly to London at the end of my semester and we would embark on a Eurotrip together. We did just that, but with the added company of our close friend from home. The three of us flew to Rome and then traveled by train to Pisa, Florence, Venice, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam before journeying back to London.

Planning the trip was a lot of fun for me. I had wanted to plan my Eurotrip ever since I could remember, so I enjoyed every second. I had a guidebook, which definitely helped, but there is a ton of information out there on the Internet (Trip Advisor and Hostelworld everyone!). That being said, planning a trip is time consuming. You need to know where you want to go, what route you’re going to take, how long you want to stay, what trains you can and cannot take, etc. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s absolutely worth it. I found some amazing hostels for my friends and I to stay in, where we ended up meeting some amazing people (who we still keep in touch with), and my friend’s dad even got us a couple of free nights in two different Hilton’s in Italy!

Q9: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?

My biggest challenge when I was abroad was the day of my “medical emergency.” It was two nights before I was leaving for Barcelona, which also happened to be two nights before my final exam. Earlier that day the left side of my mouth was killing me. I didn’t understand why. I tried to ignore it, but the pain kept getting progressively worse. That night I called my parents. I told them that I noticed it was swelling, and I wasn’t sure what to do. After much freaking out, they decided I would need to contact someone and go to a doctor. I was not happy about this. I refused many times, telling them that I needed to pack and study for my exam all day. They were persistent.

After a lot of work, they helped me find a walk-in-clinic in Central London. But I was still concerned about my exam. Running all over the place in Central London all day meant I wasn’t going to get any studying done. Not to mention I was absolutely terrified because I had no idea what was wrong with me. Nevertheless, the next day I set off by myself, swollen mouth and all. Long story short, the doctor I saw told me it was dental, and that I would have to see a dentist. Luckily, there was a dentist who could see me that day, and he was only located around the corner. Still terrified, I walked to the dentist where I was greeted by very friendly staff. It turns out that I had some sort of infection, which could sometimes happen after wisdom teeth surgery, but was rare. He prescribed me antibiotics, told me I’d be fine by my flight, and wished me luck. I also ended up getting out of having to take my final exam, and everything worked out in my favor. It was still one of the scariest experiences I had abroad, but I’m glad I was able to overcome it.  

Q10: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students afraid of studying abroad?

Two words: DON’T BE! Listen, I get it. It’s totally normal to be worried or scared of going abroad. As excited as I was about going to London, the weeks and days before my trip, I began freaking out. I shut down, and anytime the topic was brought up, I smiled uneasily and answered any questions politely. My closest friends and family were the only ones able to see the intense anxiety I was feeling. I knew absolutely nobody in my program. The thought that I was going to be completely alone and independent kept running through my mind, and I was sure I would fail. Was I going to make friends? Was I going to be homesick? Would all those lovely Brits like me? I was in constant fear. One of the things I was most nervous about was leaving home and missing out on all the experiences my friends would have. As selfish as it sounds, I didn’t want them to meet new people and have too much fun without me. A horrible case of FOMO, am I right? Really though, all these feelings are completely normal. The key is to not let any of these feelings influence your decision to go abroad.

Going abroad was one of the best experiences I will ever have in my entire life. It allowed me to open my mind, immerse myself in other cultures, and see history many people don’t have the opportunity of ever seeing. It showed me how beautiful the world is. I’ve come back and now all I want to do is travel. I’ve come back and I’ve grown in ways I never could have imagined. I am so thankful for my experience, and if I could, I would do it all over again.

Cheers, Arielle!

England: London’s Wasps Rugby Game

Today we traveled via the “tube” and by train to watch an English Rugby Game. (We are all becoming quite good at navigating through the underground)The game featured London’s Wasps and another semi local team from Bath. We arrived and were immediately greeted given an official Wasp scarf/lanyard, and taken on a tour around the facility. As a group we toured what would be the equivalent of the visiting and home teams’ locker rooms, the suites, were taken through the tunnel onto the actual field, and got taken into the room that housed the Wasps’ glorified trophies. We even got to take a photograph with the teams’ mascot on the field prior to the start of the game.

London 1

The stadium actually holds 2,000 less people than Johnny Unitas Stadium and their suites were certainly not as extravagant as we would expect to see at home in the states. It was definitely interesting to see the difference in complexity between a stadium in the United States and one here in London.The game we attended today was televised. The community relations tour guide warned us that there may not be a large turnout, as when games are televised fans tend to stay home and watch the matches from the comfort of their own homes. There is a recession going on in London as there is in the United States and it is cheaper for people to watch the game from their homes. Despite the recession and the forewarning, the particular match we attended was packed.

London 2

It took awhile for us to catch onto the sport, but it was very entertaining and proved to be a great deal of fun. The Wasps made a great come back in the first half, consisting of 40 minutes, after they were down by about 10 points. The crowd was very engaged the entire time which truly emerged us in the English culture. The Wasps won the game, making it even more exiting to attend! I made sure to buy scarves and hats to bring home to my family and friends.

London 4

Danielle Rust

Sports and Industry in the United Kingdom

Minimester Program, January 2013

London, England

United Kingdom: The Making of Harry Potter

Platform

Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station, London

Ever since J.K Rowling brought Harry Potter to life, London has been Harry Potter headquarters. While I was in London I made the most of the “Harry Potter Experience” by seeing as many sites as I could related to Harry Potter. I went to Kings Cross Station to try to run through the platform, I walked around London looking for certain buildings used in the making of the series and I also saw numerous sites related to the actors lives outside of Harry Potter. The most exciting experience of all was when I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden, England (20 minutes north of London).

Studio Tour

Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour

The tour takes place in the actual studio that was used to film the movies for the entire 10 years. The actors and actresses used to come to this building everyday to film the magic we all saw on the screen. It was absolutely incredible to say that I have been there too. The studio was transformed into a museum for the sets and props used through out filming to give true Harry Potter fans a chance to keep the magic alive. Universal Studio’s Harry Potter World has nothing on this.

Flying Car

One of over 80 flying cars used in the making of the films.

In the tour you learn how the magic of Harry Potter was actually created! You get to see the real props that the actors and actresses used through out filming and learn about how they used special effects to make Hogwarts come to life.

Great Hall

Slytherin’s Table in the Great Hall

For the tour you are given an audio guide that explains all of the details of the magic of the series. The audio guide tells you so many fun facts and details about the sets and props that there is no possible way to remember them all.

WandsThese are the wands used by popular characters while filming. Each wand was made by the individual actor who used it.

In addition to seeing hundred of fascinating props we got to take a ride on a broom stick! We were not allowed to take any pictures but the studio had a green screen experience for the both flying car and broom stick. We got to wear a robe and everything!

Dumbledore's office

The set for Dumbledore’s office

Through out the tour we got to take a peak into miniature versions of some sets. In some of the sets the household objects were alive just like in the movie!

Potions Class

The set for the Potions Classroom

There was a part during the tour where we got to step outside and experience the “back lot”. The “back lot” is an outside space where they shot a few of the larger outdoor scenes. We got to see larger props and drink Butterbeer!

Night Bus

The Knight Bus

The tour ended on a spectacular note by showing us a large 3-D model of Hogwarts. While many people would love to believe that Hogwarts still exists (myself included), there was no large castle used in the filming of the movies. In each scene where they show an overhead view of the castle, the model was used! The module was absolutely incredible! The module even had working lights in every small window that would turn on and off as the lights in the room changes to show us the details.

Hogwarts

Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry

Having the opportunity to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour is one I will treasure for quite sometime. This experience truly helped me to learn how the Harry Potter magic was made both on and off the screen.

Leigh Anne Weaver
University of Westminster

London, England

England: Chelsea Football Club

Stadium

While I have never been a huge soccer, I mean football, fan, seeing the Chelsea Football Stadium today was extremely exciting! Our program set up the tour for us and we got to see numerous different areas of the stadium! We got to sit in the players box, see the stands from high up, enter the press room, and even see their locker room! It was exciting to see since football is such a large part of the English culture.

Chelsea's Field

A View of the Field

Chelsea Press room

Being Interviewed by the Press

Baltimore in Chelsea

Leigh Anne Weaver

University of Westminster

London, England