Study Abroad: Arcadia-University of Westminster; London
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Matthew Carrigan

Matthew Carrigan

Major: Criminology and Psychology
Hometown: Rancho Santa Margarita, California

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this experience from talking to my adviser, Karen Sones in the Criminology Department. I was given the Penn State education abroad office's website link and was soon exploring the many options that they offered for study abroad.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

On the first day of the program, I met fellow students from various other universities, as well as the Arcadia staff who facilitated our orientation. Soon after, I was on my way to see my new home for the next 5 months! My en suite room in Marylebone Hall was absolutely perfect with a fantastic view of London. Two days after, we met at the University of Westminster campus named Little Titchfield for our orientation with the University of Westminster. After becoming settled in the following week before classes began, I began my two Criminology and two Psychology classes. The British schooling system was a little overwhelming at first, but I became very comfortable with it as classes progressed. Outside of classes, I did my best to immerse myself into the culture. I made sure to visit the world-renowned tourist attractions like Big Ben, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace. They were absolutely fantastic! I also took trips offered through Arcadia University to beautiful sights like Stonehenge, Bath, and the Cabinet War Rooms in Central London. Additionally, I went to an exciting rugby game at Wembley Stadium and that allowed me to really feel like an Englishman! Living in London really allowed me to be independent and explore one of the world's greatest and most vibrant cities.

"Taking both Criminology and Psychology courses at the University of Westminster bolstered my confidence and confirmed my career goals."

How did this experience impact you academically?

First, it challenged me to except a new countries' academic system. England's schooling and grading system is very different than the United States'. Specifically, there tends to be only one or two assignments that make up your whole grade for a class. Additionally, the grading numbers are very different. For example, an A in London is equivalent to a 70 or higher. Furthermore, I was also challenged when I had to learn about England's criminal justice system in order to understand the more complicated material presented later in the class. Lastly, the professors and classes are run very independently in England, which can make it very difficult when looking for guidance and help towards class material. Thankfully, I eventually did get used to England's schooling system.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I would love to work for a government agency as a forensic psychologist or detective. I would be willing to work internationally if I was called to do so. Learning about Criminology and Psychology in a foreign setting allowed me to gain a solid foundation in the fields I would be working in if I took an international position. This study abroad experience opened my eyes and broadened my knowledge of a different, complex, and extremely interesting criminal justice system other than my own. Taking both Criminology and Psychology courses at the University of Westminster bolstered my confidence and confirmed my career goals.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would most definitely recommend this experience to other Liberal Art students because it gave me the opportunity to travel while feeling extremely safe in my assigned housing. Moreover, it allowed me to truly experience a new and exciting culture while furthering my academic degree. London is such an amazing city to call home for five months and I still feel like there was more to see! If you choose to study abroad through Arcadia's University of Westminster program, you will never be short of sights to see and experiences to have! It is up to you to immerse yourself in this most wonderful opportunity. If you do everything you can to further your understanding of this beautiful culture, then you will surely have many stories to tell upon your return!

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