Life Lessons from Across the Pond

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Kristen Murphy Third-year, College of Management When I came to Georgia Tech as a freshman in the fall of 2007, I knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point during my time at Tech. After finishing my first year and doing some research about the different study abroad programs offered through the Georgia Tech Office of International Education, I applied for the University of Leeds exchange program in Leeds, England. I wanted to go to England (mostly because of my lack of foreign language skills) and take classes outside of my major to experience something different from life as a Georgia Tech student. What I wasn’t prepared for was how utterly different my experience would be. Arriving in Leeds was like being dropped off on a different planet. Despite my familiarity with the language, I found myself lost in the thick West Yorkshire accents and feeling as if I might have been better off brushing up on my high school Spanish and trying to navigate Spain. I was suddenly confronted with a new public transportation system that I had no experience with, an unfamiliar currency, a five-hour time difference, and all kinds of foreign terminology and expressions. My first 24 hours in England were spent figuring out the basics-how to find the nearest grocery store and bus stop, set up internet access, and sort out the right amount of change. Those first days in Leeds were exciting, overwhelming, and almost surreal. From the very beginning, I was welcomed and surrounded by other students who had chosen the same adventure I had. When I arrived at my accommodation, I was met with a map and some basic directions and advice. From there I proceeded to an orientation meeting hosted by the study abroad office where 250 other study abroad students gathered in the post-arrival shock of life in a new culture away from home. During the next five months of my semester abroad, I traveled to 10 different countries and visited 21 different cities. I made friends from England, Australia, Germany, Spain, Canada, and Sweden and learned to navigate metro stations, endless city blocks, and a variety of local cuisines. My best advice is to spend at least one semester abroad, travel as much as possible, learn a couple key phrases in several different languages, and make sure to call your bank to tell them you are leaving so they don't lock your account!


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Created: 10/07/2009
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016


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