Desiree Sterling ’15
Media and Communications Studies (MCS) major
I chose England as my study abroad destination because I wanted to live in an English-speaking country and attend a university where I could study media and communications as well as dance. University of East London was a perfect match! Since UMBC did not have any programs affiliated with this school, I applied via direct enrollment. Although I didn’t have the convenience of a program guiding me throughout my stay, the UEL International Office was more then helpful in getting me acquainted with the campus’ resources.
The classes I enrolled in were Urban Film, World Cinema, and Hybrid Forms: Performance and Choreography. Academically speaking, I learned about the film industry outside the confines of Hollywood and how different cultures distinguish themselves in cinematic art through various artistic choices concerning anything from characterization to camera angles. I also had the opportunity to receive basic training in Bharatanatyam, a classical south Indian dance form, and experimented with choreographic devices to create my own hybridized dance form.
I learned that asking questions is not a sign of incompetence when living in a foreign country, but actually a good habit. It’s easy to let pride take over in order to appear independent and not stick out as a foreigner. However, asking questions actually saves time and limits the amount of frustration and anxiety you would experience had you insisted on figuring things out on your own. It was comforting that the United Kingdom predominantly speaks English, yet the UK still surprised me with plenty of culture shock experiences that I found easier to navigate through by asking questions in order to stay safe, informed, or just amused (e.g. British biscuit=American cookie).
I encourage others to seriously consider completing a semester abroad because the knowledge you gain from such an experience is incomparable to anything you can be exposed to while in the United States. You challenge yourself in multiple ways that by the end of your term, you are sure to notice a deeper sense of confidence within yourself. That feeling of adventuring abroad while receiving education is a satisfying feeling that will last a lifetime.