At American universities, many students choose to spend one semester studying abroad, typically during their junior year. As someone who had been fortunate enough to take many international trips with my family while growing up, COVID ruining my junior year study abroad plans didn’t feel like too much of a loss.
However, as the world slowly returned to normal and my senior year approached, I realized that I felt little need to complete my degree at the place where it had started. Why not finally go abroad for my final semester? I felt that I had experienced all I wanted to experience on my college campus, and was anxious to have a new adventure and a fresh start away from Massachusetts.
After researching a variety of study abroad programs in a multitude of countries, I landed on the CAPA London program. Besides the appeal of living in London, I was drawn to this program because of the option it provided to complete an internship with a local organization. How often do twenty-one-year-olds at university have the opportunity to gain international work experience?
I was so excited when I first got to speak with Maija in August, just a few weeks before my impending arrival in London. We did not get to choose our own internships, so I was nervous I would get stuck somewhere I wouldn’t like and have no time to make other arrangements. That fear quickly dissipated when I learned about Sculpt and the role I would be playing in forwarding their projects and mission. I was shocked by how good a fit it seemed to be– since I studied sociology and environmental studies, an organization focused on youth empowerment and social justice was the perfect place for me.
As someone who had never lived more than a few hours from home, let alone in a country across the world, my move to London was incredibly daunting. Yet, despite the myriad of new things– classes, employment, people, accommodation– Maija and the rest of the Sculpt staff and volunteers immediately made me feel welcome. Coming to the office quickly became a welcome reprieve from my crowded apartment and classes surrounded by only Americans. There was always new, interesting work to get involved in.
Interning with Sculpt has been one of the highlights of my abroad experience. I’ve had the opportunity to publish written work, help facilitate events, and work with an incredible, diverse group of people from all over Europe. Today is the last day of my placement, and a week from today I’ll be landing back home in New York. While I am excited to return home and prepare for my upcoming move to Washington, DC and new job, I am certainly sad to leave this amazing city and all of the wonderful people I got to work with. This semester in London has fundamentally changed me, and I know that, even from over 3000 miles away, I’ll be taking everything I’ve learned and my new connections home with me as I start the next chapter of my life.