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Study Abroad - Chloe Bell

Name: Chloe Bell

Degree: Media and Journalism

Location(s): University of Central Florida

Why did you decide to do study abroad?

I decided to study abroad in my second year because I really wanted to challenge myself to become more independent since I hadn’t moved into student accommodation in first year. I was also beginning to get tired of doing the same bus route into university and back again every day so I fancied a change. Granted, studying abroad was a pretty big change but it was so worth it!

Why did you decide to go to the university you went to?

I knew I wanted to go to a university in America rather than in Europe and though it was more expensive since I didn’t have the Erasmus grant, I don’t regret my decision at all. I had been to America before but never Florida. So I chose University of Central Florida as my first choice since it was the most affordable and had a lot going on in terms of activities and things to do on and off campus. I also wanted to gain more confidence in myself and throw myself into something I’d never done before. Doing study abroad has taught me that I am capable of more than I think as I managed to adapt to a new way of living, relying only on myself all while taking on new challenges. I really wanted to meet new people and experience things that I couldn’t in my hometown of Newcastle.

What was your stand out moment during study abroad?

I had so many stand out moments! But one that sticks in my mind is this…The University of Central Florida has student ambassadors who organise events for exchange students to help them settle in. So my stand out moment was our trip to Saint Augustine during my first week. It’s the oldest town in America. We went with all of the other exchange students and that’s when we really got to know each other. I’ve made friends from all different backgrounds and cultures and had the best time doing so.

Another personal stand out moment was having two of my articles published on the University of Central Florida’s student website. One story I’m particularly proud of was about two recovering heroin addicts. I visited the rehabilitation facility where they were living and interviewed them along with the founders of the organisation. Before doing study abroad, I would never have had the courage to do that so I’m so glad I decided to study abroad.

Was it expensive to study abroad?

Studying abroad is quite expensive in my opinion especially if like me, you choose to study outside of Europe as it means you do not get the help of an Erasmus grant. However, I think the experience of studying in a whole new country is invaluable, whether it’s for a semester or an entire year. You meet other exchange students from all over the world, experience a new way of life, and make unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. You have a whole lot of stories to tell when you get home! If your family and friends don’t groan every time you say: “when I did study abroad…”, did you even go?

Do you think your experience helped you in your studies at Northumbria and your career?

I study journalism and every single person doing my course is required to do a placement so I wanted to do more than that to stand out to future employers when I graduate. Studying abroad will look appealing to future employers but not only that, I’ve gained a new perspective on journalism as I have seen the similarities and differences between reporting in the U.K. and that in the U.S. I’ve learnt about the importance of the First Amendment in America and how it differs from our regulations. I’ll definitely be able to apply what I’ve learnt while studying in America so I can fulfil my goal of being a successful newspaper or magazine writer and I will be a better journalist for it.

If you could offer some advice to students thinking of going on study abroad what would you say?

If you’re a student thinking of going on study abroad, I’d say do your research. Don’t just pick the first university you come across. See what’s around the university - things to do, places to see. You don’t want to get there and realise you’re staying in the middle of nowhere. I almost applied for an American university that was just that, until I was told that I’d have to get taxis everywhere and the nearest grocery store was 30 minutes away.

Another thing I’d say is if you’re nervous about going on your own, consider going with a friend. I lived with my friend while in Florida and I absolutely loved my time there. So that’s always an option if you’d feel more comfortable going with someone.

Overall, I’d say that if you’re considering studying abroad, just do it! When are you ever going to have the time to go abroad for this length of time again? That’s how I thought of it. It’s an unmissable opportunity and a chance to make amazing memories while gaining invaluable information and experience for your future career.

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