Bethan Jones

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Commercial Graduate, Bakkavor

Studying abroad in Colorado, USA was the most incredible experience of my life. I’ve made amazing lifelong friends and had once-in-a-life-time experiences.

It was a bit daunting flying over to the States on my own and setting everything up but luckily, through a LUMS Study Abroad event, I met a girl from Colorado who I was able to fly over with and her family helped me get set up. Once I was properly moved in, making friends was really easy - thanks to the allure of a British accent!

The Study Abroad Office also put on weekly socials for the international students at University of Colorado so I could go and meet other people from all over the world who were doing the same thing as me. Through this I made lots of international friends who were all interested in travelling so I had a group of friends to go travelling with in the vacation periods. It was also a comfort being able to talk to people who were also trying to adjust to the US culture and education system.

I studied Business Studies while out there and found the American way of academic life really different to the UK. The US split up most of their courses into three exams worth about 20-25% each and then papers and homework. This makes the workload more evenly spread out and there was no work to do over Winter break so I got to go travelling for an amazing three and a half weeks. The professors were very accommodating if I had any issues or needed some help and we also had our own department advisor to assist with any course problems if they arose. I found the campus to be a lot bigger than Lancaster but it was very easy to navigate around it after a week or so of using a map.

The American college lifestyle is very different to the UK. There is a huge amount of school spirit – ranging from wearing University clothing to chanting at University football games! Every Saturday in my first semester I stood on a bench for about three hours trying to understand American football and cheering on my beloved buffaloes! I was also able to go to a few ice hockey and baseball games for the state teams which were both just as good.

With my American friends we took a road trip to Aspen, Colorado and then had a traditional Thanksgiving meal. In Winter Break I was lucky enough to go to Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Washington DC and New York City for New Year's Eve. Then finally in Spring Break I went to Phoenix, the Grand Canyon and Texas.

I believe the experience of studying abroad was invaluable for me. I feel more independent and self-confident, which has allowed me to excel in my academic life – I no longer worry about presenting in front of many people or working with students from other countries. Upon my return to Lancaster, I joined the Lancaster Study Abroad Society and was voted in as President. This has allowed me to meet and help students studying abroad at Lancaster University and others who are going to study abroad elsewhere.

I believe the study abroad experience was crucial in enabling me to find a graduate job as more and more employers are looking for internationally mobile graduates who can work effectively with different cultures. I can also demonstrate adaptability, which is a bonus for employers as many companies operate in fast-paced and changing markets and they need candidates who can keep up.

Studying abroad was the best experience of my life and I would recommend it to anyone, as it is such a unique opportunity!