Unexpected Compromise: Studying Abroad From Glenside
A year ago, I had committed to Arcadia and decided to take the opportunity of studying abroad in London as a part of the First-Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE). Today, I find myself on Arcadia’s campus in Glenside, studying abroad virtually. Though this hasn’t been the ideal outcome, it’s hard to ignore the positives that have come from this change and the growth I have seen in myself.
As anyone could imagine, taking London-based courses while living in the United States has posed some challenges. The classes themselves are condensed into seven-week courses and split up into two blocks, so each class is highly accelerated. This was hard to adjust to, especially after taking classes at a more moderate pace last semester.
In the first block, I took a class called London: City of Art, where we studied the ways art exhibition has changed in London over the years. The other class I took was Biology II, which was very rigorous and taught me how to manage time efficiently in order to learn 16 chapters in seven weeks. Now, I’m starting Showcasing the Nation, which provides an overview of London as a whole, and The Making of Global London, a class that explores migration and sociology.
Communication in FYSAE has also been an interesting barrier. London is five hours ahead of the United States, which makes for almost a game of tag reaching out to professors in the early morning or late evening.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to study abroad, I’m content to be on campus for the semester. Even before the second block went virtual, I didn’t want to leave what had already been established. It was a relief to tell my friends whose friendships I built so quickly in the smaller setting that I would be here for the full semester. I’m ecstatic to be competing in track and field with a new team after I lost my senior season in high school. I love getting to decorate my apartment without questioning “When will I have to pack this up?” Laughing at absurd jokes with my roommate that I met through FYSAE while we study way too late at night would not be the same as if we were in London with five other flatmates.
Although we missed out on what would have been a great adventure in London, I wouldn’t want to have missed my first experience of campus life for anything. I still gained the valuable experience of learning in a culturally different context and how to be flexible. It’s been a compromise I’m happy to have taken.