Monica Gu CC'20

Tower Bridge, London, England

Studying Abroad With Skills from Home

Monica Gu CC'20

Alone in London for four months, I was able to enmesh myself in different cultures...

Prior to studying abroad, I’d been incredibly privileged to have already visited Europe on family vacations. But living and studying across the Atlantic Ocean on my own—without the company of my family or the knowledge that I’d be back home in a week or two—was an entirely different global experience. Alone in London for four months, I was able to enmesh myself in different cultures and gain a new sense of independence while using the knowledge, skills, and motivations I had already accumulated at Columbia.

As I visited art and history museums in London, I analyzed exhibits with the knowledge and intellectual passions I’d gained from my major and the Core, all while recognizing that these were unique pieces I couldn’t find at home. As I explored new neighborhoods and figured out public transportation, I utilized my familiarity with New York to adjust to a new city system while appreciating every detail that made London different. And as I made new friends from countries all around the world, I reached out to connect to people in ways that I had always done at Columbia, but with an even greater appreciation for the global diversity that exists outside of America.

Studying abroad is often encouraged as a way of stepping completely out of your comfort zone and trying something new. While this is certainly true, my semester abroad taught me that the experiences that have shaped you so far at your home university will follow you no matter where you go, and make your global adventure an even greater learning experience.