By Mallory Sherwood, Managing Editor
Face the Facts
Some things just seem better in England than they do in Abilene. For those who have traveled abroad, that is all I need to say. But for those who have no idea what I am talking about, read on.
I’ve been in Abilene long enough to have heard most of the complaints about what there is or isn’t to do, what restaurants are missing or what store the Mall of Abilene doesn’t have, and occasionally I agree. However, I am not one to judge Abilene because I come from a town one-fourth the size of Abilene, have Amish neighbors, and yes, I do know what cow-tipping is, although I have not tried it.
This summer I spent the month of May studying, although mostly traveling and sightseeing, with 24 other students in Oxford, England, with the Mass Communication Law Study Abroad class offered through the Journalism and Mass Communication Department.
Can I just say one word? Amazing. I was only there about three weeks, and when I stepped off my plane in Cleveland, after flying for 17 hours across the world, I missed it.
Traveling abroad is a unique opportunity that everybody should experience at least once in their lives. The list might be long on reasons why you shouldn’t go: you’d get behind in classes, it costs too much, you’d be homesick, you’re against the French, etc. Don’t let these feeble excuses stop you from the adventure of your lifetime. When will you have another opportunity to study and live in a different culture from anywhere between two weeks to an entire semester? Hundreds of people have participated in ACU’s Study Abroad program since it first began in the 1990s. Ask anyone who has been; it’s a choice I promise you won’t regret.
For those who have thought about going to either Oxford or Uruguay even for a second should go sign up today. If you do, here is my advice on what to do and what to avoid.
1. People will warn you that it is expensive to buy things in Europe. Believe them and bring twice as much money as you want to spend because you will need it. For every dollar you spend, you only get .55 British pounds, and let me tell you, that won’t get you very far.
2. If you plan on studying abroad for a whole semester, pack your own spices because Tex-Mex is not a specialty in England, and when your friends write to you about Rosa’s Tortilla Factory opening, you won’t appreciate them and will want spicy food to comfort you.
3. Do not pay for a cab.Ever. England is one of the prettiest places I have been, so take advantage of the beautiful scenery, the historic buildings and the sidewalks. Learn to pick up your pace and walk fast if you don’t want to be walked on by the British.
4. Take advantage of the weekends and visit any place you think you must see in your lifetime. You are only hours from other countries and a plane ride away from even lands that once seemed a world away. Plan ahead, travel with a few friends, not eight, but a few friends you enjoy and take in every sight.
5. Don’t eat McDonald’s in Rome. It may look like the McDonald’s down the block, but it doesn’t taste like a hamburger, you are not eating onions, and they will charge you for that pack of ketchup with your fries.
6. Pay the extra 25 Euros to take a guided tour of the Vatican. You will not only jump to the front of the line, but you also will learn about the history behind some of the most famous artworks in the world and you just might get a picture of the Sistine Chapel ceiling like I did … trust me, it’s not a postcard.
7. Don’t worry about missing home and don’t count down the days until you are back in America because this may be your one chance to see the world.
What are you waiting for? Hop on a plane, and we’ll see you next semester.