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Europe is Calling

Michelle Vernazza
June 22, 2017

Take a peek at our conversation with Featured Study Abroad Student, Michelle Feyder!

"You will learn SO much more about yourself than you ever imagined."

When and where did you study abroad?

I studied abroad in London, England during Spring Semester 2016 through UMD's affiliate program provider ASA.

What was your most memorable experience abroad?

One of my favorite experiences abroad was when I was able to visit the real life Downton Abbey and then have a cup of tea and a scone in the courtyard. It was a dream come true.

What was the funniest thing that happened to you abroad (e.g. cultural misunderstandings, or transportation issues, language barrier etc.)?

This wasn't funny at the time -- but when I was getting off the bus at the airport in London on my way to Poland, my suitcase was missing. We spent 30 minutes running around the airport and making calls. We found it at the lost and found. Never let your suitcase leave your sight!

What do/did you do for fun in your free time abroad? 

In my free time, I would sit down for an afternoon tea at a fun cafe, bakery, or hotel. It was my favorite pastime. I would also visit the historic landmarks in London, try different pubs, and visit Brick Lane, Camden, Soho, or stroll along the South Bank.

Did you travel while abroad? If yes, where?

England, Poland, Italy, Scotland, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Wales

How much did you budget?

I didn't really focus on budgeting. I focused more on enjoying my time and living to the fullest! But, every purchase I made I rationalized.

How much did you end up spending?

I can't remember exactly, but it was probably around $6000

Do you have tips or advice regarding budgeting and spending?

I would recommend spending money on experiences rather than items. Each trip I went on was the trip of a lifetime, and I am glad I spent my money on those types of purchases.

What was traveling like? (Both within the city and outside of it?)

Easy! After your first solo experience, you feel like you can do anything! Within the city, especially London, it was extremely easy to get anywhere by foot, bus, or Tube. Flights across Europe were extremely cheap, and train schedules were easy to navigate. I had mishaps of course, but I learned SO much through each one.

What did you pack but ended up not needing?

I brought way too many clothes!

What did you need but didn’t pack?

I wish I would have brought more of the specific brands of things I like. Items like face wash or mascara. Sometimes, you can't find your favorite brands around the world!

What was the food like?

Delicious! English food is better than people say. And since London is the most cultural city in the world, you can find absolutely anything that you're craving.

Did you find things that you liked?

Everything... buying healthy food was a lot cheaper than it is here in the US. So I was able to find all my food staples at the grocery stores for a pretty low cost. My favorite meal in England was definitely a steak & ale pie with mash!

What foods did you miss from home?

Honestly, I didn't miss too much. Everything I wanted I could find at a restaurant or the grocery store. But of course, I missed a home cooked meal with my family.  

How did the locals dress?

The fashion in London was sort of dark-colored and formal. People don't go outside in yoga pants or sweats. I also got strange looks when it hit 65 degrees and I wore shorts around the city.

How did you get the foreign currency?

I used my Capital One card (no foreign transaction fees) when I made purchases. When I needed cash, I used my debit card at an ATM.

What do/did you miss from home that you never thought or realized you’d miss?

I really missed the quiet. I could hear buses and cars outside my room in London all night. The classes I took in London only consisted of one or two tests, so I also missed the curriculum at UMD.

What was one thing you thought might be a big deal while being away, that wasn’t so much of a big deal when you were actually there?

I was really worried about not having a Target or a big grocery store nearby. But I found that I could find everything I needed, just with a smaller selection. I was also worried about getting lost or spending all my money, but I did a good job navigating the city, and the continent for that matter, while limiting my spending in order to save up for weekend trips.

What advice would you give on how to adjust to living in a new culture?

I think the easiest way to adjust is by immersing yourself in the culture. Live like a local and you will begin to think and feel like a local.

Would you recommend studying abroad to another student? If so, why?

YES! Not only can you explore the world during the most care-free time of your life, but you will learn SO much about yourself that you never thought possible.

Do you hope to travel again in the future, and if so - where?

Of course! Next summer I want to spend a month traveling around Eastern Europe. I eventually want to explore Southeast Asia and South America as well.