Student Blog - Advice to Prospective Students

James Ballantyne Regional Program Manager


September 22, 2015

It would be easy for us to draw up a list of things you should expect from your time abroad, or tips and tricks to make the most out of your time here. But we are not in your shoes. We, no matter our experience of the UK, are not in the same position that you are.

Luckily, a number of our spring students were happy to share their advice for any and all prospective students. These students have lived and breathed the study abroad experience that awaits you. Read what they have to say, and take it to heart. This advice might just make an already great experience even better.

What was the highlight of your time abroad with Arcadia?

‘I think the highlight of my time abroad was finding myself. Moving to London has made me discover things about myself that I would have never discovered living on campus. For instance, I've become more outgoing and adventurous. I never spend a day inside if I can help it. There’s so much to see and do here that the city kind of forces you to involve yourself, and that’s something I really needed. Even days spent sitting in class are entertaining. I've learned so much here, inside and outside of the classroom. This experience has absolutely shaped me as a person, and I couldn't be happier.’ Jordan McIntyre

‘Probably the biggest highlight was finding some food that I really liked. I stumbled upon a food market in Manchester’s City Centre that had all sorts of cultural foods. I would go back every weekend to try a different vendor’s food.’ Jeremy Griffith

‘The highlights of my trip abroad with Arcadia were definitely my HOST visit in Newcastle-under-Lyme, learning to be more responsible and independent, traveling to other countries at the weekends, the friends I made, and meeting Rupert Grint twice in a pub!’ Sheila Bogan

‘As a student at Royal Holloway right outside of London, the highlight of my experience is hands down the people I've met. A lot of my friends who have studied abroad in London had warned me that most people I would spend time with would end up being Americans. To my surprise, my flatmates (most of whom are from the UK) welcomed me my first week here, and we've been friends ever since.  I’m very lucky that I can say I have really good friends in England when I move back to the States.’ Paige Monopoli

What was your biggest challenge?

‘The biggest challenge was becoming aware of my independence. I always felt like I could handle anything alone. I was able to take on the transition to college life in another state no problem back home. Here, however, I wasn't aware that I would be starting completely fresh in an entirely different culture. You don't have any friends or family here. You just have to tough it out and try to find new ways to cope with stress.’ Jeremy Griffith

‘The biggest challenge of living here has been finding balance. Balance between time spent studying, time spent exploring, and time spent relaxing. However, I will say as these months have passed, I've realized that if you dedicate a little time to all three each day, everything seems a bit more manageable.’ Jordan McIntyre

‘The biggest challenge for me was either getting used to the currency and having everything be more expensive, or having to commute a lot more than I was used to. As for the commuting aspect, that took a bit to get used to since Arcadia's home campus isn't that big and I could walk to class in under 5 minutes. Now, having to walk and commute to class (especially traveling to City once a week) and having to walk to go get groceries or something isn't that bad anymore. The commute is actually relaxing because you can use that time to just listen to your music or get some reading done on the tube if necessary.’ Jeana Cattoi

‘The biggest challenge I've faced while being abroad is being on my own for the first time in my life. College at home isn't really comparable because I still feel pretty taken care of and I'm constantly surrounded by other people. In London I have made all of my own connections and built relationships from scratch without anyone's help. I would sometimes feel bored or lonely in the beginning but I realized that I can have the time of my life by myself and I can be independent.’ Sheila Bogan

If you could go back to pre-departure, what would you tell yourself?

‘I would probably tell myself to relax and be myself. You don't have to try to impress anyone or change who you are. You'll do just find, and you'll eventually find some really awesome people to hang out with.’ Jeremy Griffith

‘If I could go back to pre-departure, I'd tell myself to be open to every new experience that comes my way. There have been times that I've hesitated to go out and do things, because they were out of my comfort zone. I really wish I had embraced every opportunity that came my way, because some of those opportunities led to invaluable life experience. I think I've gotten better about embracing everything that comes my way as the months have gone on, but I think my experience would have been heightened if I had this philosophy from the very start.’ Jordan McIntyre

‘I would tell myself to save more money! You'll regret eating out at Panera once a week when you're in London and wanting to buy plane tickets to travel around!’ Megan Shuffleton

If I could go back to pre-departure, I would tell myself that I shouldn't worry so much about being in a new place and to experience as much as I could. I regret not planning more day trips to other places around the UK. There were so many places that I could have explored, like York or Cardiff, and I haven't gotten the chance to explore them yet. I would also tell myself that I can rely on the teachers here for any help. I thought that the teachers wouldn't have any time available to go over any of my work and I would just have to see what my work would get as a grade. But, the teachers are very helpful if you ask them to revise one of your papers or something, and you do it in advance (and not the night before) they will be very accommodating.’ Jeana Cattoi

‘If I could go back to pre-departure, I would tell myself to enjoy every moment of this trip because it's an amazing, life-changing opportunity that will fly by.’ Sheila Bogan

‘I would tell myself to calm down and enjoy the ride.’ Paige Monopoli

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

‘Relax and take it slow. There's a lot more to the experience than trying to fit in. There are places to explore and experiences to be had. If you spend all your time trying to fit in, you will really be missing out on everything around you.’ Jeremy Griffith

‘Don't ever spend a day inside!! Even if it's just going for a walk, try to leave the house at least once a day. Your time here is shorter than you think, so you should try to fill it with memories of you going out and doing something as opposed to you staying in on the computer. No good story starts with,"yeah, so this one time I was in bed watching Netflix..." Remember that!’ Jordan McIntyre

Have the time of your lives. You gain a lot of independence when you get over here and it's very liberating. Explore as much of London as you can and maybe even go to some other places in Europe. This definitely is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so make the most of it.’ Jeana Cattoi

‘I think that study abroad is one of the absolute best experiences you can have. I would definitely recommend it to other students who want to spend time in a new and exciting place where they can change for the better and make unforgettable memories.’ Sheila Bogan

  1. Do your research from head to toe!
  2. Calm down and take it easy
  3. Don't be afraid to ask questions
  4. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself
  5. Don't be afraid to explore even when you don't know where you're going!’
    Paige Monopoli

Thank you to Jeremy, Jordan, Megan, Jeana, Sheila and Paige. If anybody has any more advice to share, please do so in the comments.