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Semester Abroad Spurs Independence in Jackie Stevens

In the third semester of her General Education degree at St. Louis Community College, Jackie Stevens decided to try something different. She flew across the Atlantic to Canterbury, England and enrolled in four classes at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). There she took British History, British Politics and Society, Communication between Cultures and American Cinema. The classes were taught by British instructors and her classmates included British students. Stevens was able to study in Canterbury through St. Louis Community College’s study abroad program. Students with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 who have completed 12 college credits and have received a grade of “C” or better in College Composition I are eligible to participate. The program runs in both the fall and spring semesters.

In addition to studying, Stevens learned by exploring Europe. Classes only meet one time per week for two hours and there are no Friday classes, giving her many opportunities to travel on the weekends. The train system throughout Europe makes it easy and convenient. “It was lots of fun,” said Stevens. “Besides studying, I got to travel to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany while I was there. Edinburgh, Scotland was my favorite place.”

Each student lives with a British family during the semester and is provided room, breakfast and the use of laundry facilities. “My home stay was with an older woman. She was really nice and let me borrow her bike. I rode all over Canterbury on it.” Her other favorite part of Canterbury was wandering up and down High Street and visiting the local Starbucks or the pub to socialize. As for being homesick for her real home in the United States, Stevens said that it was only at the end of the semester that she really started missing home. “I missed my nephew’s first birthday, so that was hard.” During the rest of her stay she said that keeping busy and being able to e-mail and “skype” with her family really helped.

When asked what she thought she learned from studying abroad, Jackie explained, “Things are just different. You have to learn tolerance and to let go of small things that are out of your control.” She also learned that it was difficult to overcome American stereotypes. “The media portrays Americans as being self absorbed and materialistic. British people don’t want or need as much. They recycle everything. They live in smaller homes. They are more worried about other people. It’s more about ‘us’ than ‘I’.” And what did she learn about herself? “I thought I was a pretty independent person, but I learned just how much I depend on others, especially my mother. There are no parents there prodding you to get your work done, cooking for you, doing your laundry or planning a trip. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to living on my own and made me learn to grow up.”

Her advice to others considering a semester abroad is simple. “Definitely you should go!” For more information about STLCC’s Canterbury program and other study abroad opportunities, visit the study abroad website link below.

By: Debbie Ward

More information: the study abroad website