Junior fall as an AMCS major: preparation for our Capstones is underway, we are fully engaged in our various clubs and commitments on campus, and we’re preparing for the daunting reality that we will soon join the workforce. I was simultaneously excited and anxious to be leaving all of this behind for a semester abroad in London, but on my final week here, I realize that these five months have been more valuable than I ever imagined. Though I took classes at University College London, “classroom” took on a whole new meaning. Beyond the lecture hall, I learned so much from the new culture I was immersed in, the people I met and befriended, the places I went, and the experiences I had. Becoming close friends with Brits, Norwegians, and Hungarians has given me a close look into other cultures and perspectives. While traveling solo in Greece and Italy, the independence allowed me to meet people from all over the world in hostels and on hiking trails. Those relationships, though short, were some of the most memorable and meaningful.
Yet at the same time, I’ve still felt a strong connection to home. I brushed up on my American history through the “Building the American Nation” course I took, where our investigation of Reconstruction’s failure provided an interesting historical parallel with the current issues of Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and inequity in our education, criminal justice, and countless other systems. The lack of political will and support from the white public failed to secure civil rights for African Americans during Reconstruction—a legacy that today raises the call to the government and allies across America for their solidarity and action in the fight for racial equality. This connection has given me new energy and commitment to becoming a stronger ally to the black community. Also, London’s diversity reflected that of America; interacting with London’s shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and staff in my building only strengthened my interest in immigrant voices and stories, the topic I plan to write my thesis on.
As I leave these five months behind, I return home with a better understanding of myself, newfound confidence, and new friends and experiences motivating me in the work and projects to come. I feel ready as ever to tackle senior year, a thesis, and the reality that I’ll be adulting in one short year. So thank you, abroad, for the fun and memories, but also for the fresh perspective.