Michael Zauzig ’08 - University of Gloucestershire, UK
Throughout my first two years at Juniata, I knew about the Study Abroad Program, but gave it little thought. Why go abroad? I had been up to Maine, down to Florida, out to Washington, and even to Alaska. I had always considered myself well traveled. However, when I really thought about it, I realized this wasn’t so true. I had grown up in Huntingdon, and was now going to Juniata College. Some students go hundreds of miles to college and I was staying in the same town.
During the summer after my sophomore year, I started to consider the idea of going abroad. By the first month into my junior year, I knew it was something I needed to do. With the help and encouragement of the Education Department, the abroad office, friends and family, I decided to go to the University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.
I arrived in Cheltenham on February 1st and would be there until June 18th. Besides a few difficult days at the beginning of my stay, I haven’t looked back. First, I was able to go to another university and experience a completely different style than Juniata. The four classes I took were beneficial and fit my specific needs. This included an education class (being an Elementary Education major) and a sports education class (I hope to become a soccer coach). Being abroad is truly an extension of your education which is priceless because I was getting the chance to see and live in another country. Second, not only was I at a different university, but was immersed into a different culture. Although some changes were easier than others, you have to be prepared to adjust to every aspect (music, food, social life) of that culture. Third, I lived in a building which had students from all over England and the world. In my flat there were two girls, one from the southern part of England and the other from China. The guys in the flat were from Manchester College in Indiana, the Midlands close to London, and Wales. Fourth, the experienced I gained from living alone was priceless. Unlike Juniata where you go to Baker to eat, I had to shop and cook my own dinners. I’ll admit I’m not much of a cook, but you learn fast when you need to.
Being in England provided me with a great opportunity to travel. I’ve been able to travel all around the southern half of England. I’ve been to Cardiff in Wales, Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s town), Bristol, Warwick, Oxford, Salisbury, London and even Stonehenge. At the end of the year, I made it north to see Scotland. England also provided me with a gateway to Europe allowing me to travel throughout my spring break. Mainly using the train, I made it to France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Austria, and Italy. Never did I think that I’d be taking pictures on top of Notre Dame, walking around a concentration camp, or posing at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
As I look back on my experience now, I really can’t believe all of the places that I’ve seen or the things I’ve done. This experience has helped me grow as a person and enriched my life. It has encouraged me to do more traveling and hopefully I’ll be able to visit England again soon. I hoped that after reading about my experience, it will encourage you to study abroad, too.