Published: 06 June 2013

Richard Winstone on the University of Central Florida

So, why spend a year in a different country?

The hassle of finding accommodation, organising appropriate modules, getting visas and insurance, making a new group of friends… is it all worth it? YES! Studying in Florida was, by far, the best experience of my life. I decided to travel to America because I wanted to improve my self-confidence. I want to work in America at some point in the future and I was certain that this opportunity would only improve my CV and give me a better understanding and appreciation of what that would truly be like.

The exchange scheme was fantastic;  I met amazing people from all over the world and spent a year loving life in the beautiful Florida weather! Whilst studying, I had the opportunity to take part in American traditions such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Spring Break. My new classmates and their families welcomed me with open arms and shared with me their celebrations.

With the support offered by Sandra, Annette and Stephanie from the University of Surrey’s International Relations Office, application for the exchange programme couldn’t have been easier. The experience opened my eyes to a whole world of opportunities that the University of Surrey offers and to how different my degree could have been had I not taken full advantage of this opportunity. Before this exchange I was never very interested in seeing the world, I simply wanted to live and work in America.  Now I have an even stronger desire to work there and a new urge to travel, meet new people and immerse myself in other cultures.

My experience helped me improve interpersonal and communication skills, I became proficient in budgeting for a long period of time and learnt to live independently, I also improved my self-confidence and ability to adapt in new situations. Indeed, I learnt a lot that will help me through life but most importantly I had a lot of fun! Seeing how others lived, meeting people from a variety of backgrounds and being a part of their traditions was an unbelievable experience and I honestly wish I could have stayed longer.

I would highly recommend to any student presented with the opportunity to study abroad during their degree to do so. It will make you more appealing to potential employers, it provides an opportunity to experience a new culture and you will be taught invaluable transferable skills that will assist you in the future. The list of benefits from taking part in an exchange programme is never ending, the only way to truly discover this is to take part yourself, and I hope you do.

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