Why did you choose your study abroad program specifically?
I decided to study abroad for two reasons, really. The first was that I was looking for a program that could expand upon my creative writing work in an academic environment similar to Bowdoin’s (class size, difficulty, etc). The second was that I was ready for an adventure. I grew up in Maine and felt as though I needed new experiences that challenged and validated my independence all at the same time. Advanced Studies in England fulfilled those requirements, both in its top-notch academics as well as its truly beautiful and unfamiliar setting.
How did you connect your off-campus study with your Bowdoin academics, before leaving and upon your return?
The written work that I produced abroad, in a tutorial setting at Oxford and a classroom setting at ASE, gave me the foundation necessary to apply for and be awarded a Surdna grant during the following summer. In addition, the practice allowed me to hone my technical skills and stylistic presence, which later prompted me to complete a collection of short stories in the form of an Honors project.
What do you believe was the impact and value of your study abroad experience for you academically and personally?
Academically, the program let me focus exclusively on my writing, which streamlined my growth in that department more than I can say. Alongside that, the literature classes I took were taught by some of the most brilliant lecturers that I have ever encountered. They taught subjects such as Myths and Legends in Ireland and England- a class I never could have taken at Bowdoin. That being said, I think that the personal impact of studying abroad was invaluable. I made friends that have become integral parts of my life, so integral that I'll be living with a few of them after graduation. And I learned that I was capable of taking care of myself in a foreign city where I knew no one. You never know how reassuring it is to step onto the tube in London and not be afraid of getting lost or to come home from a day of classes and feed yourself until you actually do it.
What was the best learning moment outside of the classroom?
For my Irish Literature class, we took a field trip to Dublin. My professor had us walk the exact routes of the stories in James Joyce’s The Dubliners. It blew my mind, to actually see the roads and the buildings and the parks that Joyce had written about and I had read so many times.
What advice can you give to current Bowdoin students about going abroad?
I’d tell them to go. Even if you’re scared, because it’ll be worth it a hundred times over. Don’t let preconceived notions about what type of person you are or are not keep you from participating in it all. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.