"Studying abroad completely changed my life. I definitely grew as an individual because I was exposed to different cultures and experiences that caused me to internally reflect on my own."

Hi! My name is Briani, and I’m a senior in CC studying English and History (Class of 2023). I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but due to COVID, I wasn’t sure how possible it would be. I had never been to Europe, and always dreamed of traveling and meeting new people, seeing new places, and overall broadening my horizons. Furthermore, as a low-income student, I’d never had the opportunity to travel abroad growing up, so I believed studying abroad might make that possible. I've always been curious about the world around me, and I wanted to see what existed beyond my life growing up in metro-Atlanta. Thankfully, I was able to participate in the IFSA in the United Kingdom: Queen Mary University of London program in Spring 2022.

Studying abroad completely changed my life. I definitely grew as an individual because I was exposed to different cultures and experiences that caused me to internally reflect on my own. Moreover, I pushed myself to say yes to opportunities that came my way and to embrace all that life had to offer. In terms of my academic goals, the British educational system felt more hands-off, so I definitely had to hold myself accountable to do my work and stay engaged. For one of my classes, I got to explore London through its literature and quite literally take it to the streets, which reminded me of why I chose my major in the first place! Since going abroad, I’ve been pursuing opportunities that can facilitate my move abroad, either to England or France, and it’s given me another goal to work towards. Through my experience abroad, I was able to grow in my confidence and worldliness, push myself as a student, and make lifelong friends.

Students making home made pasta while abroad in Italy

Briani and friends making pasta from scratch while traveling to Italy!

I have so many special memories from my time abroad, and so many of them are cherished recollections of the close friends I made there. We explored London together and traveled to different countries, and I feel really fortunate to have had besties and travel buddies in them. One of my favorite memories is our time in Italy when my best friends and I traveled to Rome and Florence. We drank the best wine, ate our body weight in pasta (pesto, carbonara, marinara, and more), and had countless cannolis and gelato. We went on a wine tour in Tuscany, took a pasta and tiramisu-making class in Rome, and took photos in a small photo booth tucked on a Florentine street corner for two hours. No two days were the same, and I realized that we all meshed so perfectly together, not just as travel partners but as friends. We sat and talked on the Ponte Vecchio, marveled at the Colosseum, and made wishes at the Trevi Fountain. It was on that trip that I realized how special my life abroad had become and all the wonderful things I had discovered, like the cheapest flights (courtesy of RyanAir and EasyJet), the comfort of hostels, stumbling onto the most beautiful streets by just wandering around, and the overall joy of exploring and experiencing the world alongside forever friends. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world, and I hope everyone can have the chance to experience all the magic I did during my time abroad.

As a Gilman Scholars recipient, check out my Follow-on Service Project, "Your Study Abroad" zine, that I created with the help of the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement. There are a wide variety of Financial Considerations, so please speak with a Financial Aid Officer for more information.