An Unconventional, Very British, Semester

Author Michelle smiling with a carboard standee of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Last spring, I surprised myself. I had just settled into a relatively steady lifestyle (at least for a Yale student). I could finally navigate the dining hall, pick a final schedule from ten potential classes without breaking a sweat, and easily (well, maybe not that easily) write a ten-page paper. I had “conquered” college.

But tucked in the back in my mind remained one nagging concern. In high school, I had promised myself to study abroad and discover what other countries had to offer. Now that I had mastered navigating the residential college’s basements and accumulated an impressive stack of textbooks, that task seemed much more daunting.  I was comfortable with my life at Yale and considering how much there always is to do on campus, it seemed counterintuitive to leave. In the end, my wanderlust won out. And I’m glad it did.

For students considering studying abroad, I cannot stress the amount of resources at your disposable through Yale. Generally, students apply in the second or third month of the semester prior to their experience to receive academic credit for the work abroad. Students can then apply to either directly enroll at another university (which was the pathway I opted for at University College London) or apply to a Yale coordinated program (Yale has two popular semester term programs in Beijing and London). Once students have been admitted, the study abroad office coordinate pre-departure meetings to help facilitate the transition. 

Armed with these resources, I spent Fall semester of my Junior Year studying at UCL. To say the least, it was a whirlwind of a semester.  I found myself juggling weekend trips to Hungary and Slovakia with afternoon tea breaks with French friends and cooking for myself in addition to my four English classes. At first it was intense, but by immersing myself in such a different environment, I became more independent and learned so much about myself.  I thought I’d share some pictures from my time abroad (since sometimes words really don’t capture the full story.) Enjoy!

Michelle at the Abbey Road crossing.

Not the conventional shot, but here’s a view of the infamous zebra crossing at Abbey Road.

 Michelle on a rocky mountain peak.

Feeling a bit adventurous, and celebrating one of the few clear days in the UK, I climbed a now dormant volcano in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Michelle in front of a fan shrine for the "Doctor Who" spinoff series "Torchwood".

 I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan, so you can image how excited I was to visit the recently opened Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. While strolling around the pier, I came across this monument to the Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood.

 Michelle with a statue of a patrolman in Budapest.

 After having my plane rerouted to Slovakia, a midnight train to Hungary, and a 2 am walk to find my hostel, I finally arrived at Budapest! (Running on 2 hours of sleep, by the way)

Michelle with a statue of Jane Austen, imitating her dignified pose.

 As an English major, I had to check out the Jane Austen Center, and couldn’t resist imitating her pose either,  

 Michelle by the water's edge at the Roman Baths.

 Anyone up for a dip in a geo-thermal bath in Bath, UK?

Michelle in front of the "Olde Sweet Shoppe".

Opportunities abound in England for sweet indulgences! For when I was homesick, they carried imported American candies and cereals at three times their regular prices. 

Michelle taking a sip from an ornamental teacup.

I probably drank my weight in tea this past semester. Here’s a particularly gorgeous tearoom in Cardiff.

 Michelle gives a thumbs-up for the Queen's Guard at a gate to Windsor Castle.

And of course, no British trip can be completely without a picture next to the Queen’s Guard. I caught this picture right as they were changing troops at Windsor Castle.