December 2, 2020

Alumna reflects on London experience

I chose to attend Webster in large part because of its study abroad program.

London, Geneva, Thailand — these were fantasy places that I could only dream of visiting as a small-town girl growing up in Missouri. But Webster made them a reality.

I signed up to study abroad in London my first year at Webster and was approved to go the fall of 2005. During those months abroad, I grew as a person. The experience also helped me make a big transition to my first job out of college, where I am still at today.

The flight out of Lambert on my way to London was my first plane ride. Webster arranged the flight and paid for it — another perk. It was nice to have other students on the same flight to deal with checking in, changing flights, baggage claim and getting to Regent’s College.

The college is in an old building that survived the blitz during World War II and had great character. The campus was absolutely beautiful. It’s located in Regent’s Park, very close to the Queen Mary’s Gardens, which is filled with roses. When it wasn’t raining, I would walk through the park to Camden Market. I saw a lesser-known Shakespeare play in the park’s Open Air Theatre.

Did I mention how awesome it was to have London as my playground? Big Ben, the Tower of London, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the West End, some of the best museums in the world, restaurants where I had my first taste of many ethnic foods, nightlife and so much more. I saw a number of plays, some starring famous actors — Kevin Spacey as Richard II, anyone? Traveling the countryside, I saw Stonehenge, castles and cathedrals — places where history took place.

As a journalism major, I took several media classes while in London, which is a hub of information. This gave me an opportunity to learn how another culture produces and uses media. But London also gave me a chance to take electives, because there were not many journalism courses. I took history classes in one of the oldest civilizations, international relations and political science classes in one of the world’s capitals, and literature classes in a culture steeped with classics. My instructors were from all over the world, as were my fellow students, who provided different perspectives to class discussions.

I ended up staying another semester in London because I was so enamored with the city. However, this put me behind in my required courses. Spending another four months in London gave me more time to see the city and travel but, halfway through the semester, homesickness finally hit me and I was ready to come home. In hindsight, I should have split the semesters apart and experienced another campus abroad.

When considering a campus to study abroad at, I would advise others to look at what classes they offer and if you can take any of your required courses. Or, consider it an opportunity to take electives and learn about something new.

Studying abroad was a good experience for me in so many ways: exposure to new cultures, traveling, history, art — even school was a different experience. It made me more independent, but you have to already be an independent, curious person to study abroad. If you’re a homebody, you’ll probably end up homesick the whole time.

I have my study abroad experience on my resume and have talked about it during job interviews. It helped me get my job in California. I believe studying abroad shows you’re an open-minded person who can adapt to new situations, a plus to employers.

Being at a school with study abroad opportunities like Webster’s, don’t miss an opportunity to travel and become a true student of the world.

—Kelley Atherton

Journalism graduate 2007


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