Education Abroad: Drew-Asia Keating ’20, London, England

Drew Asia-Keating in England.
First-generation college student Drew Asia-Keating '20 (CLAS) says her Education Abroad experience in London took her out of her comfort zone.

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 are available, spanning 54 nations. 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: Drew-Asia Keating
Year: Junior
Major: Communication
Education Abroad programs: London, summer 2018

About: Drew-Asia Keating, a native of Stamford, Connecticut, is a communication major at UConn. She hopes to work in community relations or social media relations helping young people upon graduation. She is part of the Student Support Services (SSS) program at UConn, which aids students who are first-generation to college, from low-income families, and from populations underrepresented in higher education. She also works in the SSS office.

What was the experience of traveling to another country like?
This was the first time I had ever been on a plane, had a passport, or traveled any amount of distance. That was a whole different experience of its own. The farthest I had been away was maybe Philadelphia. I felt like I should have been more nervous than I was, but I wasn’t.

How did you get interested in Education Abroad?
I first got interested by being part of SSS. I work in the office there, so I heard about it a lot and saw pictures. My counselor Chelsea Cichocki was the driving force to get me to apply. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would not have gone.

What were your impressions of London?
The most interesting thing was the fact that everyone has an idea of what a typical London accent is, but when you are there interacting with people, they all sound different. If you are from a different area of the city you sound different, and if you are from a different culture you sound different.

I loved the flat we lived in and the experience of living with other people. We had six people living there and had this living room. We could come together and have family dinner there, hang out, and do homework together.

What was your academic experience like?
We took a very hands-on type of class. We had some classroom time, but most of the class was outside, exploring museums and different cities. We learned to reflect on the history we were learning, rather than just reading it out of books. We spent time in Brixton, where a lot of people of color resided. It was very urban, with people walking up and down the strip. People really loved their culture there, with markets and art that showed who they were as people.

How did you grow as a person?
I got out of my comfort zone. I am one of those people who likes to stick to what I know. When I am comfortable I feel safe, but this trip definitely pushed me.