Home Alumni Alumni Spotlight: Hannah’s Fall Semester Abroad in London, England

Alumni Spotlight: Hannah’s Fall Semester Abroad in London, England

by AIFS Abroad
AIFS Abroad Alum Hannah from Towson University in London, England holding an umbrella in the rain

Doing a study abroad program can be a life-changing experience. Just ask Hannah, a college student from Towson University and an AIFS Abroad Alumni Ambassador who spent a fall semester studying in England’s capital city of London.

Now that she’s officially part of our alumni community, Hannah can reflect on her study abroad experience. Read on to hear all about it in our recent interview with her.

Interview with AIFS Abroad in London alum Hannah from Towson University

Introducing Hannah

Q: Hannah do you want to introduce yourself and just tell us a little bit about you?

A: Hi everybody, I’m Hannah. I go to Towson University and I’m a Business major with a concentration in Investments. I chose AIFS as actually my first choice. I knew I wanted to study abroad in London and, as I wasn’t interning for anything, I had a lot of [general education courses] I could fill, so I chose their free electives program because they all kind of spoke to what I’m interested in. I did a lot of Communications courses — things like that — and it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

When I went abroad, I did a lot of free electives, too, and I think it’s a great way to still take classes but not be super stressed out about them and everything. It was probably one of the most freeing things I’ve done, to not take a finance class.


Discover how Hannah from Towson University navigated new surroundings and strived for excellence both academically and personally while doing a study abroad program in London, England. 🌍   Have questions about studying abroad and setting goals? Leave us a comment down below!   #aifsabroad #studyabroad #studyabroadprograms #studyabroadlondon #london #studyabroadengland #england #collegestudents #personalgoals #academicgoals #towsonu #towsonuniversity #towsonabroad

♬ Lofi/Fashionable/Rose Piano/10 minutes(1455693) – nightbird_bgm
AIFS Abroad in London alum Hannah from Towson University shares her study abroad goals

Setting Goals and Expectations

Q: So as you reflect on your education abroad experience, what academic goal did you set for yourself and where is your progress currently?

A: I tried to go into it really with no expectations. I feel like that’s the best way to do it, just because even if you have a friend going to the same place, you’re meeting all new people and you’re kind of thrown into a brand new environment. So, academically — I mean, my goal was just to be as successful as possible in just a different place, but [in terms of my] personal goals, I was trying to lead with no expectations, just so I wasn’t let down by anything or I wasn’t too overstimulated expecting something different, if that makes sense.

I think that was the best way for me to do it. I feel like it allowed me to get to know people more and not have any judgments of where I was going or anything like that, and all of my professors were super supportive of anything academically. My last day, everybody was like, “If you ever need a recommendation for anything, please let me know,” and I was like that’s just so nice. I dealt with difficult professors before and they were not one of them.

Personal Growth

Q: What is something that you have learned on your program that you may not have if you hadn’t studied abroad?

A: I feel like it was a new sense of independence. I mean, I’ve always felt pretty independent from my family or just in general, but when you’re [abroad without them] and there’s no way for someone to come get you from home, it’s a different feeling.

I remember the first couple days I was kind of homesick, but I was also just being thrown into brand new situations I’d never experienced before. I feel like if I hadn’t studied abroad, I wouldn’t be able to navigate my life the same way. I remember when my parents came to visit me — it was probably like two months into the program — and we were going to lunch somewhere. I had to map everything on CityMapper and everything — I had to do it all. We were getting on the tube stations and stuff like that, and they were so impressed that I could get from point A to point B without needing any help or asking directions. I was like, “No, I’ve been doing this for two months” — and then I realized three months [before that] I was not able to get from campus to home without GPSing it.

So I just I feel like when you absolutely have to do something or else you can’t accomplish it, it forces you to get better and better at it. It’s just kind of like how practice makes perfect kind of thing. […] You can see how far you’ve come when people visit, and you are guiding them around and stuff like that.


Without even realizing it, studying abroad can help you improve or gain skills that you can apply to your everyday life moving forward! For AIFS Abroad alum Hannah from Towson University, she improved her public speaking skills. Take a listen!   Have questions about what study abroad program would be the best fit for you? Visit the 🔗in our b!0 to request information and get in touch with our team!   #aifsabroad #studyabroad #studyabroadprograms #studyabroadlondon #london #studyabroadengland #england #collegestudents #personalskills #academicskills #improvement #publicspeaking #towsonu #towsonuniversity #towsonabroad

♬ Lo-Fi analog beat – Gloveity
AIFS Abroad in London alum Hannah from Towson University talks about talent and skill development

Skill and Talent Growth

Q: We know that talents and strengths can develop over time as they were applied and practiced. Did you witness any of yours really start to shine abroad or after you returned?

A: At least for me, my classes were pretty small since I did the [AIFS] Global Education Center. It was a great place to learn, [and it] didn’t look like a standard college setup. Only people in my classes were people in my program — it wasn’t like a full campus. I think the biggest class I had was probably 10 people. It was things like that, though — I realized that I actually really like smaller classes. I got to know my classmates a lot more. We all live together, too, so it’s just comfortable space.

Where I started to shine from that was with my public speaking skills. [There were] a lot of presentations and projects where we had to stand up and explain things in a way that I’d never done at my school, unless I had taken a public speaking course. You just don’t [usually] do that unless it’s like the end of the year project… so I think I got a lot more comfortable with my public speaking skills. […] I I think that studying abroad helped me a lot with that because I got more used to it and I was able to do it in a space where it wasn’t that many people, so I could work my way up to a larger group.

AIFS Abroad Alum Hannah from Towson University in London, England holding an umbrella in the rain
AIFS Abroad Alum Hannah from Towson University in London, England in front of Big Ben

Discovering Your Identity Through Cultural Immersion Abroad

Q: So in international education, studying abroad or interning with people from different backgrounds or cultures can present opportunities and challenges. Describe a time where differences and background impacted your interactions with others.

A: In London, there’s a lot of stigma between British people and Americans — and not necessarily what is stereotyped like in memes. It’s more of mannerism differences. I think that is the biggest drawback of being an American if you’re in London, because there’s just such a stigma about Americans being loud — [but] we are. I had never realized before I was told that we were just known for being loud. And then I would get on public transport with my friend — we’re all from different states in America, but we’re all equally [as loud] and I was so self-aware. Like, way more self aware than I’d ever been before, because I was realizing that all these people are looking right at me as I’m screaming on transportation. […]

Also, when you say thank you for things or when you apologize for things that aren’t really your fault. Americans are really apologetic and I would get told a lot, “Oh, you don’t have to be sorry. Nothing happened!” and I would blurt it out because [it’s] what we do, I guess. Another was instead of saying “thank you” for things [in London], you say “cheers” — just different language. I would get found out for being American very quickly because we just act very differently. […]

I was really nervous because I thought that British people didn’t like Americans at all, but some people were like, “Oh no, we love the US!”

Sustainable Living Abroad


We’re passionate about sustainability abroad, and so is AIFS Abroad alum Hannah from Towson University. She’s developed the habit of carrying reusable bags while shopping at home because of her study abroad experience in London! She picked up on the locals’ eco-friendly behaviors there and has brought those changes back with her to the States! 🌎 ♻️   How awesome is that?! Learn more about Hannah’s study abroad experience by watching our full interview with her on our YouTube channel!   #aifsabroad #studyabroad #studyabroadprograms #studyabroadlondon #london #studyabroadengland #england #collegestudents #personalskills #improvement #greeninitiative #recycle #reuse #habits #sustainability #towsonu #towsonuniversity #towsonabroad

♬ Brunch (Lofi) – Muspace Lofi
AIFS Abroad in London alum Hannah from Towson University talks about sustainable practices

Q: How did green and sustainable lifestyle opportunities incorporate into your study abroad experience? How do you think that you will keep that and continue to practice that now that you’re back?

A: I noticed in Europe that a lot of places that I went to — the bag thing. Having a bag in a grocery store, not do it yourself kind of thing. Self checkouts [were] everywhere, there was no attendants for things. And now I don’t go anywhere without like a big bag of bags, and I take them everywhere I go. Since I’m at Towson, Baltimore County passed a no plastic bag thing, too, and I was like, “Well, this is great! This is no different from the way I was [living the] last three months.” […]

I also think [that] in Europe it’s much more prominent that climate change [is real, and that] there’s a cause and effect relationship between the world and its people and the environment. I think they’re much more aware than the US may be at this specific point in time. But I think we’re getting there, but I think they’re much further ahead. I mean, I’d go into stores and they would have 100% cotton things, where we would sell like half polyester. It’s just different quality. Things are a lot better. The food is sourced a lot better. The hormones and food — my body had to recover the first week of being back because it wasn’t used to all of the preservatives that we have. […] Just the quality of the food truly just was so great. Even just like produce! […] I would get raspberries at the Whole Foods [and they] tasted way better. I didn’t understand at all what the difference was, and the first week I was there it was like withdrawal of the preservatives because I was like I don’t know what’s going on with my body.

Mental Health and Studying Abroad

Q: We’re going to do a little bit of a focus on mental health. How did you manage your mental health abroad and did you ever think about your mental health and plan before going abroad, since it is such a drastic change? And what is something that you wish someone would have told you relating to your mental health before you go abroad?

A: I actually — I didn’t have a tough time. I would say it was a tough first two days because when you get there and you don’t know anyone… I remember moving into my room and I was like, “I regret this. I want to go home. I’m so far away right now. It’s blistering hot. I haven’t made any friends yet” I didn’t met anybody in the lobby checking in. I just didn’t think I could do it, and that’s coming from me who was fully prepared to go. I couldn’t even imagine how other people were feeling if they were nervous prior to going to the airport. I just thought this isn’t for me, I should go — I should call someone.

But then after, it’s really just the people that you surround yourself with. I met some of my best friends there and I met them my first night. In the first four hours I was there, I was I moved into the wrong room, there was a mix-up with my check-in. So, I was having a tough day — so jet lagged. I was trying to stay up and I didn’t even make it past 7:00 PM. I knocked out when I came home and I had not met any of them yet, because I had moved into the wrong dorm. And I went out with them that that night and from then on we just did everything together! And I think that it really is just your environment and the people that you surround yourself with. And whether you like everyone in your program or just a select few people, as long as you keep that company close [you’ll be fine]. […]

You’re surrounded by a bunch of people — people who are able and willing to help you — and are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The mindhamok is offered when you are [in London]. It’s kind of like a BetterHelp situation, but they promoted it the first day that I was there. If you are feeling like any kind of culture shock or missing home, anything like that, and you don’t want to only talk to your family on the phone, you can talk to a professional. And they offered services 24 hours. It was just a great resource. I don’t think I ever used it, but I know some of my friends did it. It doesn’t always hit you the first day — it did for me because I felt a little lost. Some of my friends didn’t experience that kind of homesickness […] until about a month in. For me, that’s not how it worked out. But for some other people, they had that resource. I thought it was great, I thought it was a perfect option for people who couldn’t exactly connect with the people they wanted to. They could connect with someone who could be there for them.

Reverse Culture Shock

Q: How did you feel coming back? Did you have like a reverse culture shock when you came back?

A: So I went to a seminar at my school about culture shock before I left and I was like, “I don’t want to be unsuspecting of things.” I was thinking that this could be helpful and I want to be prepared. I did not feel any kind of shock, it was kind of more that it hadn’t sunk in yet. My parents picked me up from the airport and I was so confused. I was so disoriented as to where I was. […] I remember seeing a Wawa driving home [from the airport] and I was like, “Oh my God, we need it — I haven’t had Wawa in like almost four months.” It was just like little things like that, and then seeing all of my friends again.

Coming back to campus is probably the biggest change. While I was taking all those classes [in London], it was also [that] I was just being overstimulated every day by new things and new cultures and going to new places I had never been. Coming back to something that seems familiar I think is what shocked me more than [going] to a new place. […]

My family and my friends will ask how was London and I’ll reply it was great… and now I’m here. It’s just different because you’re absorbing all of this information for such a short span of time but you get so comfortable with it. I remember when I was living in London, it felt like I’d been there for years. It just felt like it there was no other life, and then I come home. It’s people who I’ve known forever but they seem so distant from me because I haven’t seen them in what felt like forever. It’s just hard. Plus , the friends that I made — they were all just like the best friends I had for those three months. We’d do everything together. I never spent a day apart from them and now we’re all scattered all over the place, like all over the country. One of my best friends lives in Texas. […]


A piece of advice for future study abroad students!   Hannah, who studied abroad with us in London, thinks future students should try not to go into their study or intern abroad program with any expectations and enjoy every moment — it goes by extremely fast! Be present and enjoy the ride.   Have questions about how you can study abroad? Leave us a comment down below!   #aifsabroad #studyabroad #studyabroadprograms #studyabroadlondon #london #studyabroadengland #england #collegestudents #advice #futurestudyabroadstudents #internabroad #towsonu #towsonuniversity #towsonabroad #studyabroadtips #studyabroadadvice

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
AIFS Abroad in London alum Hannah from Towson University talks gives advice to future students

Study Abroad Advice

Q: If you have one last piece of advice to give people who are studying abroad and planning to, what would you say?

A: I would really advise people to not go into it with any expectations. A lot of my friends were expecting this or that — whether that happened for them or not. I just think you shouldn’t set yourself up to be disappointed in anything, you can’t possibly be disappointed. You’re being submerged into a whole new world of things. If you let yourself get held back because of expectations that you set or things you thought that you would experience and haven’t yet, it’s common. In studying abroad, you just need to enjoy where you are right now instead of where you want to to be. It’s important to absorb the time that you’re there. It’s such a short time. I remember when I came back I was like, “I wish I had done a year.”

Ready to take the leap and study abroad? We’d love to help you start your journey!

Here at AIFS Abroad, we know a thing or two about helping college students and pre-professionals study and intern abroad. Our programs are incredibly inclusive, which takes a lot of the stress out of planning. From coordinating your housing to providing things like cultural and social activities, excursions, comprehensive insurance, 24/7 emergency support, on-site staff, and more, you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ll have support throughout your entire experience abroad.

0 comment

You may also like

Connect with us on Facebook