Get to know Lydia Carr, our July Ambassador of the Month. In our interview with Lydia, she shares how she made studying abroad in London feel like home. (She draws on her personal experience from which to draw, being a Jamaican national studying in the United States!)
Lydia is a rising senior at Howard University, where she studies Health Management. After graduation, Lydia plans to earn a Master’s degree in Global Health. Lydia spent Fall 2016 on the IES Abroad London – Health Practice & Policy Program, which spends the majority of the semester in London and ends with a 10-day, course-related trip to Kingston, Jamaica.
IES Abroad: Did you always think you’d study abroad during college?
Lydia Carr (LC): No, actually! I was opposed to the idea of study abroad when the subject was first introduced to me during freshman year; however, by junior year, I was studying abroad in London and Jamaica. Study abroad means a time to challenge yourself, both personally and academically.
IES Abroad: What was it like to have some time in your home country as part of your study abroad program?
LC: It was a great experience to be able to view Jamaica from a U.S. perspective. To be able to compare the British and Jamaican health systems first-hand was also a unique experience.
IES Abroad: How did you meet Londoners?
LC: My family and friends actually introduced me to people to find in London, and I spent many weekends with them. Apart from that, at my internship at Healthwatch Tower Hamlets as an outreach volunteer, my job was to collect patient feedback on the health system in London, so that allowed me to interact with locals and listen to their stories.
IES Abroad: Why IES Abroad?
LC: IES Abroad provided the opportunity to visit two countries in one semester. They were very supportive and organized when applying to the program. In both countries, the support system never faltered, and they tried their best to make us feel comfortable.
IES Abroad: Do you have advice for other students on funding their study abroad experience?
LC: Creating a Gofundme page or getting a summer job are just some ways you can fund your study abroad experience. Prospective students may also inquire about study abroad scholarships from their home schools or do a quick search online to find scholarships specifically for study abroad.
IES Abroad: Why do you enjoy being an IES Abroad Ambassador?
LC: Being an IES Abroad Ambassador is one way of giving back. I gained a new network and a platform to share my London study abroad story. I encourage students on why they need to study abroad and help them as they prepare to go abroad by being a listening ear and giving advice.
IES Abroad: What tips would you give a student to help them make their host country home?
LC: Go explore! You are bound to find something to remind you of home or something that you like. It will take time, but eventually you will adapt and feel comfortable.
IES Abroad: What would tell someone who’s on the fence about studying abroad?
LC: Just do it! You won’t regret this decision. This experience will teach you a lot about yourself and even aid in your career path if you are looking to work internationally by teaching you essential competencies, such as cultural sensitivity and knowledge gain.
IES Abroad: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before studying abroad, what would it be?
LC: It is going to be over too soon.
Do you have more questions about what it’s like to study abroad? Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador. They’re recent IES Abroad alums with a lot of study abroad expertise, and they volunteer to answer your questions. They’re here to help!