[BE Education Package] My Experience Abroad: London

Full name: Micah Pate Jr.

Age: 27

College/University: University of Maryland — College Park

Year Graduated: 2011

Current job: Elementary School P.E. Teacher

Year you went abroad: 2009

Where you went: London, England

How long you were there: 2 weeks

BlackEnterprise.com: Did you always want to study abroad, or is it something you decided to do after you started college?
I studied abroad during high school so, when I got to college, I immediately looked for opportunities to do it again.

How did you prepare to go abroad? Did your school help you prepare?
Prior to applying to my program, I researched London and the things it had to offer. There was also an orientation/meet-and-greet for students participating in the program, which allowed us to network. UMD also provided financial aid, flight information, and tips on booking flights. Looking back, the school was extremely helpful in making it a smooth transition.

[Related: [BE Education Package] Despite Paris, It’s Still Important to Study Abroad]

Who did you stay with?
I stayed with a fellow UMD student in a dorm room.

What were you expecting before you actually got there?
Because I did some research, I was eager to arrive. This was two years before the London Olympics, so I was excited to explore and see what the city had to offer. Since the study abroad program I was in focused on sport, commerce, and culture, I was interested in seeing how the city was preparing for such a huge global event.

At what university did you study?
University of Roehampton.

What was it like to attend classes?
There wasn’t much of a difference. Classes were lecture-style, so that was something I was familiar with. One major difference about my time there was that each lecture was coupled with a site visit in the afternoon. I wish every lecture was like this, because it helped build on what I learned in the lectures.

Did you establish any lasting relationships?
Yes, I still keep in contact through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with some of my classmates. We were all under the School of Public Health, so our career paths were somewhat related.

What was your biggest misconception about the people and/or the country?
I wasn’t sure about how I would fit in, but studying abroad in London was one of the best decisions that I’ve made. I was able to connect with and identify with people who I probably wouldn’t have interacted with if I were back home.

What were their biggest misconceptions about you and where you were from?
I thought that living in a metropolitan area in the United States would be different than a metropolitan area overseas, but I quickly figured out I was wrong. There were many similarities between the UMD and London.

Did you come away with any valuable personal lessons?
I learned that no matter where you are from, be open and understanding of the diverse society that we live in.

What’s your favorite memory of your experience?
My favorite memory from London would be exploring the city with my classmates and not feeling like a tourist. We were fully immersed in the culture and had a great time.

Would you recommend studying abroad to others?
Yes. I think that if anyone has the chance to study abroad, they should research what their school has to offer.