Studying abroad has been mine, and several other of my peers’, dream since they learned about it at UTC’s orientation. We go through the motions of college trying to figure out our future schedules and plan out every semester until graduation. I, being the overachiever that I am, worked my hardest to get a year ahead in school so that I could finally carve out a semester for myself to study abroad. I worked tirelessly for years leading up to it for the money, the time, and the opportunity and I was presented with the most amazing experience I could have imagined. A semester in London, taking the classes that I needed and doing one of my favorite things–traveling the world. I applied a year in advance for the program securing my spot early making sure that this opportunity would not slip through my fingers. Months of preparation and excitement could not even compare to the amount of fun, great experiences, and friendship that I experienced in my short time in London.

I needed to push myself. Getting out of Chattanooga and expanding my horizons was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to me. I now feel like I can take on the world and whatever dreams and aspirations I have I feel like I can make it happen simply by putting myself out of my comfort zone. London, a city filled with history, hustle and bustle, and home to some of the world’s greatest minds made me fe

el comfortable yet still curious as to what every new day of exploration held. I was able to see castles, beautiful landscapes, royal landmarks, sites of amazing history, modern art, and so much more. Sadly, I only got to stay in London for two months to the day, and I left my heart there. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted my experience and forced me to return home four months early with no hope of potentially returning to finish the semester when it would eventually blow over. I still, to this day, would be there and would have been returning home on June 6, 2020. My plans there feel unfinished for travel,
study, and experience.

Although my time there was cut short, I do not feel like I missed out on truly experiencing the city. London has something new to see on every corner and every day is an adventure if you make it one. Yes, I am sad that I did not get to finish out my program, but this will not stop me from loving to travel the world and getting to know the many different kinds of people in it. Studying abroad in London, and studying abroad in general, unlocks the world for you a piece at a time making it feel more reachable even for a college student. I have always been a huge advocate for the study abroad program and will continue to recommend these programs to everyone I know. I graduate this upcoming December, and my one regret with studying abroad is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Melinda Loper is majoring in Biology (Pre-Professional) and spent part of Spring 2020 studying abroad in London, England through KEI. Melinda had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to if I put myself outside my comfort zone.”

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