Brenna Torrence COVID-19 Lancaster University Preparing to go Reflection Temple Exchange Temple Semester United Kingdom

Fulfilling a study abroad dream despite the pandemic

It’s weird to think that I’m going to be studying abroad for almost seven months. This thought wracks my brain seemingly every day. Before being accepted to go abroad, I hadn’t even stepped foot onto another country’s land, though I’ve dreamed about doing so ever since I can remember. My biggest ambition in middle school was to go to England and now that I’m about to do just that, the wait is so surreal. I don’t think my brain has processed the fact that it’s actually going to happen very soon. I’ve had days during the final stretches of the fall semester and during the holidays when it feels as though I’ve fully accepted the reality of what is to come, but most days it all still feels like a fantasy. In just a few days, my fantasy will become a reality.

I remember being an eighth-grader and making a list of places in England that I wanted to explore. I knew it would be a long time before I could do so, but I held on to that list in the hope that the opportunity would come to me at any moment. Fast forward to my junior year of high school, when I explored colleges with the priority in mind to find a university that has a great education abroad program. If this program wasn’t available at a prospective school, off went that college from my list. Finally, skip ahead to my freshman year in college at Temple, where I attended numerous information sessions for going abroad while gathering all of the necessary deadlines and information that I would need to apply. It was during these sessions that I discovered Temple’s new exchange partnership with Lancaster University, an institution in the north of England. I was fascinated with the school’s history and location, and felt determined to find out more. Suddenly, the image of me going to school in my dream country seemed entirely possible. COVID-19 said otherwise. 

The 8th grade beginnings of a dream
The 8th grade beginnings of a dream

Sitting on my bed at home while attending courses held on Zoom made all of the excitement and all of my possibilities go out the window. In my mind, the pandemic was ongoing and never-ending. If I couldn’t even be on my college campus attending classes in person, how was I supposed to do all of that and more in an entirely new country? Wishful thinking was my best friend at the time, and was a tool that kept me going. I continuously told myself that my dreams of studying abroad would happen; I just had to give the world some time and some patience.

Here we are now. I applied to study abroad at Lancaster University in England for the spring semester of my sophomore year, all while attending in-person classes on campus for the fall semester. When I think about it, it’s crazy how quick it seems that I went from feeling stuck and isolated at home to experiencing a normal college life with all of my opportunities back in front of me. I know I still have various things to check off my list before I go abroad, such as making sure that I am following all of the UK guidelines for the pandemic, finalizing my course registration, etc. Somehow these responsibilities are exciting to cross off. I have waited so long to do this, and each component of the process allows me to realize that my dreams are finally coming true. 

Thank you for reading! Tune in for more of my study abroad experience to come! -Brenna

Find out more about the various steps to study abroad here!

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