Jasmine Faison ’10, who is an admissions counselor at Bennett College, where she and other Belles studied abroad in London. Learn more about her experience.
How did you like studying abroad in London?
I loved it! London was the perfect place for me. I always think of London as the New York City of Europe. The weather was good. We lived right down the street from one of the major public transportation stops, and there were a TON of fun events and activities going on in the NYU program and in the city. London is a huge melting pot, so it was interesting to be able to peel back layers and discover more about the people, social norms, and why so many people from different countries migrated there. I really enjoyed learning more about British culture, and I even perfected my British accent.
What was it like going to college in a different country?
I loved the experience of going to school in a different country because it opened my eyes to different teaching styles and forced me to be more disciplined. Students are given a lot more freedom there and are expected to use that freedom wisely. We were living in an apartment building that was a bus and train ride away from where we took our classes. We also took classes at 2-3 different college campuses. It was up to me to make sure that I got to and from the campuses, that I turned assignments in on time even when there was no physical class, and participate in certain activities outside of class that required me to travel and engage with people I had never met. One major difference was that in the UK, college/university professors prefer to be called by their first names! The college campuses were also a bit luxurious. I felt like I was taking class at a royal castle!
The program consisted of many NYU students, and a few students from other smaller colleges, like Bennett. I met some really cool friends from NYU with whom I actually still keep in contact. I also met an awesome professor, Emma, who challenged my writing and gave great advice that will always stay with me as I continue to enhance my writing skills. We met 3 really cool local guy friends that always showed us a good time and challenged our stereotypes of British culture. They helped us learn more about urban culture in London, while we, in turn, dispelled their misconceptions about black and brown women from the U.S. They were also our personal body guards and never let anyone mess with us!
Did you go abroad with other Bennett Belles and if so, how was that?
Yes, I traveled with Tarshai Peterson, Bennett College Class of 2012 and our classmate Judy Maduegbunam, Bennett College Class of 2011. Tarshai and I are sisters four times over – Bennett sisters, Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society sisters, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated sisters, and Theatre Major sisters. We had a ball together! Tarshai was in my little sister class, and we shared a lot of theatre courses so were already very close. Judy fit right into our puzzle, and everyone knew the Bennett Girls! We ate meals together, helped each other with coursework, traveled around the city, and had some memorable times! Tarshai had a birthday while we were there, so we organized a super fun birthday party for her.
How did Bennett’s Center for Global Studies help you before and when you got abroad?
They were super supportive! Before I left, I had everything I needed to be prepared for travel and the overall program. I was also given a folder with all of the completed forms and proper signatures related to my travel, just in case I needed to refer back to them. They were also so helpful in working with financial aid to make sure my costs were taken care of before I left. I felt very prepared going into the experience, so I didn’t need to reach out for any help whatsoever while I was away.
What advice would you give your Bennett Sisters who are thinking about studying abroad?
I would encourage my Bennett Sisters to be open-minded when thinking about studying abroad. There are so many places you can go for different reasons, so open yourself up to new experiences. Always do your own research, as negative things about certain countries you may have been told by others, are not always true. Focus on all of the great history you will discover and experiences you will have, instead of preparing for the worst. Be intentional about shopping around for the best opportunity based on your preferences. I was encouraged to go to Africa, but the London experience was a better fit for me. In turn, I was able to travel to Africa (Nigeria) during my fall break in London, so I was still able to get both experiences. Depending on where you go, you should definitely travel to another nearby city/country if you can during breaks or on weekends. It is much more affordable to do so when you are already abroad and much closer to certain places than you would be traveling from the U.S. Have fun and use the opportunity to expand your thinking in ways that will make you more well-rounded and culturally-responsive.