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The Trip of a Lifetime

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Oftentimes, a trip to Disney World is talked about as the most memorable experience of a person's life. Well, I've been there, and although memorable in its own right, it's no comparison to the seven weeks I spent in the United Kingdom.

I went on the Study and Internships in London program offered by the Learning Abroad Center (http://www.umabroad.umn.edu) this summer, leaving the United States on July 4, and returning on August 21. I didn't experience a lot of culture shock while I was there. The actual shock to me was the reverse culture shock. The program staff in London warned all of us that it might be extremely difficult adjusting to life back in the US. Well, I had one day to go to bed early, the next was my birthday, the next I was moving my boyfriend into our apartment, and the day after that I was at Spat Camp for the marching band. I didn't have much time to readjust to my former life here at home at all.

The experience was truly unique, though. Going to another country and being there for a good amount of time really helps you learn about your own culture from an outsider's perspective; it helps you realize how little Americans know about what's going on in the world compared to our foreign counterparts; and it makes you realize what matters most to you in your life and how to maximize those things.

What's best of all, other people help pay for it. I went abroad this summer using a scholarship from the College of Design, in addition to my federal student aid package to cover my expenses. Check out http://design.umn.edu/current_students/finance/ to learn more about scholarship opportunities in the College of Design. Make sure to find the Learning Abroad Center's scholarship page on their homepage too. I firmly believe my study abroad experience was one of the most important decisions I've made in my undergraduate career, and I believe others should make the choice as well.

Fun fact: There are freshman seminars that travel abroad over spring break now as well.


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On the left: Me and the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France; on the right: me and Chris Martin of Coldplay's suit from the Viva La Vida video at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, London.

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