I studied abroad this Summer in England, Germany, and Austria with 16 other students and 2 professors from the psychology department at UTC. While I truly did not expect my first trip overseas to be with a large group, I am very glad that it was. Studying with a group of like minded students who all share similar backgrounds and majors made the trip so much more enjoyable that I could have imagined. The connections made on this trip are phenomenal and life changing. I had an atypical college experience, so being around peers and professors who I have never interacted with was such a blessing that I had not considered before going on the trip. Now I have friends that I connect with outside of the trip and UTC, and I have made professional contacts with professors who can guide and mentor me. Because of this trip, I am able to help Dr. Madden with research in the fall; that is a position I would not have had I not connected with her during the trip.
The best location we visited, by far, was London. London is teeming with life and culture. I felt alive in the city. I felt like I finally belonged to something important, and I instantly fell into a position and the person that I was meant to be. I was able to explore Greenwich and the University of Greenwich, which is where I want to study for grad school. The lectures at The University of Birmingham were incredible as well, because I was able to get even more information on studying and life in the UK from the perspective of an American. Mrs. Janet was an amazing guide and had the patience of a saint; she truly made London easy to navigate and less daunting when we ventured on our own.
Germany was very pretty, but it was slightly disappointing travelling from the hustle and bustle of London to Munich. Personally, I would skip Munich in the next trip or make it a day trip. It had some amazing architecture, but the city itself was my least favorite. Going to Dachau from Munich was the best part of that stop. Dachau was intense and chilling, but also humbling and something I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Nuremburg was amazing, and even though the hostel we stayed in was not ideal, the location was perfect. We were right next to the train station and a shopping center that had everything we could possibly need. The trials of Nuremberg Museum was one of my favorite educational places we visited as a group; the Documentation center was slightly disappointing. I was also disappointed that we were unable to see the Center for the History of Psychology in Wurzburg, but we were able to see the Wurzburg mansion, which was breathtaking.
I wish we had had more time in Vienna because it was my second favorite city of the trip, and we really did not have much time to explore it. Between everything closing between 6-7pm, and our one day there being booked, we had little time to explore, but what we did see was incredible. Ms. Allie was a dream; she was perfect, and I wish we could have had her lead the group through all of Germany and Austria. The sites she was able to show us, like the cathedral were gorgeous. The Victor Frankl Museum was also one of my favorite places we visited. I did not know much about him or logotherapy, so learning about him and his theories and perspectives were honestly life changing.
Throughout this trip, I was able to explore and discover not only the different cities, but the parts of myself that I have been hiding away due to lack of confidence and social anxiety. I did not feel less than others or like I wasn’t wanted when we hung out in a group. I always felt like the group we had was open and easy and anyone was invited to tag along to any extracurricular that were happening, and I was very appreciative of that. I feel like I found a better version of myself, and I brought her back with me. I’m so appreciative of this trip because the experiences it gave me were priceless, but who it allowed me to become was life changing.
Jillyan Belew (BS Psychology) spent Summer 2022 in England, Germany, and Austria as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Jillyan had the following to say about study abroad, “Studying abroad is a gateway to not only another part of the world, but another part of yourself. This experience allows you to unearth dreams and potential within yourself that only a change of scenery and culture can. I’m so appreciative of this trip because the experiences it gave me were priceless, but who it allowed me to become was life changing.”
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