After growing up in New Jersey and attending Rutgers University, I knew I was ready to study abroad and explore a city other than New York. In my head, I always pictured myself studying by the Thames in London, at a cafe in Paris, or putting my four years of German to the test in Berlin.
To my dismay, the only program appropriate for my major was in Brighton at the University of Sussex’s International Summer School, a city and school completely unfamiliar to me, located almost two hours away from London. Not going to lie, I was initially a little bummed about being so far from where I had always imagined my study abroad experience to be—especially since I arrived about a week before the London 2012 Olympics.
Getting off the plane at Heathrow and directly on a bus to Brighton was bittersweet. Catching a glimpse of the Tower Bridge (with Olympic rings!) was not fun. But I was with one of my best friends, excited to arrive at school, see where we would be spending our summer, and make new friends.
I didn’t expect to love the young, vibrant, south coast city of Brighton, at least not as much as I knew I would love London, but I did. The University of Sussex’s International Summer School draws in students from all over the world, and within two days, I had friends from Los Angeles, Chicago, Germany, and The Netherlands. As cliché as it sounds, I really learned so much more outside of the classroom. I mean, how can you not? I spent nights on Brighton Beach with my European friends, talking about differences in healthcare, what our hometowns were like, and the best condiments for French fries—the verdict? Nacho cheese.
As a communication major, I loved the challenges that intercultural communication created for me in building relationships abroad. Technology is continuously making our once very big world more globalized. More and more companies are opening offices overseas, making it more crucial to understand your international audience, especially in the public relations field. If I didn’t study at an international summer school, I would not have had the same experience, and would not have noticed that I want to take my career on a global track. For that reason, and so many more, I wouldn’t trade my time in Brighton for anything.