The UConn Education Abroad program allows students to gain rich experience in other cultures by immersing themselves in the educational and social life of another country. At UConn, more than 400 programs spanning 54 nations are available. In the 2017-18 academic year, about 19 percent of the graduating class had participated in one of the programs, well above the national average of 10 percent. More than half of those students had spent a semester or year in another country. Here is one of them.
Name: Anna Zarra Aldrich
Major: English, journalism, and political science
Education Abroad programs: London, England, summer 2018; Florence, Italy, summer 2019.
About: Aldrich, of Wallingford, Connecticut, is interested in a career in communications. She is a writer and editor at The Daily Campus, and is a student communications specialist in the Office of the Vice President for Research, where she produces grant announcements and profiles about faculty and staff researchers.
How did you get interested in Education Abroad?
I knew that I wanted to study abroad even before I went to college. I have always loved to travel, and the first time I went abroad was between my freshman and sophomore years of high school to Italy, where my family is from. I loved that experience. I love to see different parts of the world with different cultures – to be able to be completely immersed in them is a really worthwhile experience. When I heard about the London program, which allowed me to do an internship and take classes while living abroad, I thought it would work out perfectly for me professionally, academically, and to learn as a citizen of the world.
What was your academic experience like in London?
I took a class at Birkbeck University in London called ‘Media Forms and Institutions in Britain,’ and I did an editorial internship at EL Gazette, an English language education magazine. I did a full piece on English language learners in America and how the plans of Secretary [of Education Betsy] DeVos will affect them. I also did a piece on the most used words to describe the World Cup. The pace was different at a magazine, because we were doing monthly stories in long form. I found that British media are slightly more editorial. The people at the magazine asked me a lot of questions about American politics and we talked a lot about Brexit. Working and meeting with different people was a huge part of the experience.
What was living in London like?
I lived in an apartment with six people – five of us were from UConn, which was nice, even though I didn’t know any of them going into it. I also had a cousin who was studying at Oxford, so it was nice to see that traditional type of school.
I thought Britain might be similar to America – they speak English, we are descended from Britain – but it is still so different in ways that I didn’t really expect; and that makes you understand things like global politics and international relations a lot better, and in a lot more meaningful ways than just reading about it.
Did you visit any other cities and countries?
I visited Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Brussels before I got to London and, while there, also went to Ireland and Scotland. Travel is something so interesting and enriching, and you come back with these different perspectives. You get to see the little things, and be immersed in some place for more than just a weekend or a week like you would normally do when traveling. It really enhances your education and your understanding.
What are your plans for this summer?
I am going to Florence, Italy for another Education Abroad experience. I want to have a more in-depth and independent experience in Italy than when I have been there before. I am going to take two classes in communications that cover Florence and Milan.