IES Abroad Study London
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Olivia K. Torres

Majors: English, Spanish, and History
Minor: Classic and Ancient Mediterranean Studies & Global and International Studies
Hometown: Mays Landing, NJ

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I planned on studying abroad before I even arrived at Penn State. Luckily, I chose a university that makes the process seamless and has countless opportunities for studying internationally. After a quick search on the Penn State Global Programs website, I narrowed my options down and chose to apply to study in London.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

There is nothing quite like living in a city that is as modern as it is medieval. History and modernity exist concurrently - most of the major roads echo the original Roman infrastructure, a lot of the architecture dates back to medieval times, and the tube system (also known as the underground) was built during the reign of Queen Victoria. Even though there is a lot of history to be marveled at, the city is completely functional and many modern marvels - such as breathtaking skyscrapers - can be found around every corner. In regards to location and ease of travel, London is an amazing place to study. Many of my classmates made weekend trips to Paris, France and Brussels, Belguim with ease. I set my sights further and traveled to Budapest, Hungary and Prague, the Czech Republic within a weekend and got there easily. There is no city in the world quite like London.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I was able to take four English classes and one History class and not feel overwhelmed by the required readings and essays. Learning about the works of William Shakespeare and taking a field trip to the Globe in the morning, then learning about Medieval castles and visiting the Tower of London in the afternoon was a normal occurrence during the semester. The subject matter was easier to digest when I was able to see what I was learning about first-hand. I got more out of each class I took because I was able to apply it to the world around me.

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

After college, I plan on attending law school and pursuing a career as a prosecutor. The court system in England is vastly different than the one we have in the United States. Everything - from what certain attorneys have the power to do to what they wear when they go to court - was new to me. It allowed me to appreciate the system we have and look at it critically. A fresh perspective such as that is something that I would never have gained had I not gone abroad. This has reaffirmed my decision to study law and has given me a unique experience that I will remember in my future endeavors.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Absolutely! I believe that everyone should study abroad at least once in his or her undergraduate career - I'm actually preparing to embark on my third study abroad adventure! Penn State provides many opportunities that make study abroad accessible to almost everyone and the benefits last a lifetime.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

As a Paterno Fellow, it would not be enough to just take a lot of honors classes and get a diploma. The Paterno Fellows Program has inspired me to approach my academics with a global perspective and make the most out of each class that I take. Subject matter that would be considered more difficult in a typical classroom setting is made more accessible when one is immersed in the culture one is learning about. Because of this, the honors classes that I am required to take can be completed with ease. This "requirement" has empowered me to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has shaped who I am.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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