Irish Life Experience Friend, Jennifer Holloway from Portland, Oregon, shares her experience studying abroad in London. While it wasn’t the Emerald Isle she studied in, we won’t discriminate against the important message she sends to all students. Ha! Thank you Jenny for giving us a special glimpse into your adventure abroad.

Spring semester of my Junior year I decided to study abroad. I went for all of the reasons you’re supposed to study abroad… I wanted to broaden my perspective, see the world, and (let’s be honest) I knew it would look fantastic on any graduate school and employment application down the road. Our coursework immersed us in British theater, art, architecture, government and literature. Instead of just reading about it, though, we visited castles, attended plays, and toured museums for truly experiential learning. I’d never been so excited about learning in all my life!

I knew I would learn about British history, current events, and important people and places. What I didn’t expect was that they would forever be associated with great memories of the friendships I made and the experiences I had there. I’ll never see a picture of former Prime Minister Tony Blair without being reminded of the friend who had a raging crush on him! Dame Judi Dench will always be one of my favorite actresses ever since I saw her in a play called “Amy’s View.” The British Museum houses an enormous collection of art and artifacts. It’s also the place where my friends and I took pictures alongside famous statues (imitating their poses, of course) and I stared utterly fascinated at Lindow Man, the 1st century AD bog body. To this day, I can’t have a cup of loose leaf tea without remembering how good it tasted when my host family made it and how terrible it was when I did! I was lucky enough to be able to travel to other places in Europe as well. I ate mystery food in Munich (sadly, none of us spoke German), sunbathed in Nice, and learned to Salsa in Barcelona. Everything about my study abroad experience was unforgettable and remains the highlight of my college years.

There are a thousand reasons why young people should study abroad. For me, the most important one is that it will never again be the experience it can be at that age. There’s just something about the immediate acceptance into the constant culture of young travelers and the excitement of experiencing it all for the first time together that sets it apart from travel later in life. There’s this hunger to see it all (on a dime, of course) and there are lifelong friendships to be formed along the way with people from all over the world. It’s been 12 years and I’m still in touch with the friends I made in England and the Americans I traveled with. I’m also still terrible at making loose leaf tea! It will never taste as good as it does in London.

Steinbeck had it right when he said “we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” I’m so thankful that one took me when it did.