Student profile: Stephanie Kaye
Stephanie Kaye, a psychology student from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, shares with you her experience of studying on a semester abroad at Richmond University, USA.
When I was applying to university, one of the things I was looking at was if they had a study abroad programme. I wasn’t originally planning to do a year abroad, but then I thought that if the opportunity is right there to take, then I should take it. I looked online and found that QMUL’s study abroad scheme was already up and running, so I decided to apply. The overseas opportunities were not promoted much within my school at the time and I didn’t attend the Global Opportunities Fair before I went, so I decided to do a little research myself. Once I found the information, the school were incredibly supportive in helping to ensure that my time abroad met certain requirements laid out by the British Psychological Society, the body providing the accreditation for my degree.
I applied to Richmond University in the US and they offered me a place. I went straight after taking part in the Camp America programme, which was three months long, so I was away for about seven months in total. It was such an eye-opening experience and I even experienced an element of culture shock. You might not imagine the US to be too different from the UK but I found that there were many differences, particularly around assessment at Richmond. At Queen Mary, my programme is based on coursework and exams. At Richmond, you have quizzes, class participation, midterms and finals, all of which add up to your final grade. I found the learning experience much different in that you had to be on top of it the whole time, whereas here you can slip and get back into it. This system was definitely beneficial to me in terms of my grades, since I was able to do half of my exams while I was out there which eased the pressure when I came back.
You learn a lot about yourself and what you’re good at while living abroad, and you’re exposed to so many more new experiences too. While I was there, I had the opportunity to join the rowing team, and I met loads of different people. Being Jewish, I enjoyed getting involved with the Jewish community while I was out there. I actually live at home in London, so the opportunity to live away from home was something I didn’t have before.
My time abroad definitely provided me with the opportunity to improve my skills. For example, I was tasked with delivering a presentation on behaviour change, something that was really interesting to me. This gave me the confidence to want to deliver more presentations in other areas of my degree. In terms of future employability, I’m currently applying for graduate schemes and jobs, and I am always asked about my cultural experience and how it differed from being at QMUL. It shows you’re interested in getting involved with other countries and cultures which is important in the modern workplace and global environment. I want to go into marketing with a company that does work around the globe. I only speak English currently, but I’m really determined to learn another language so I do want to go abroad again. The initial experience during university has broken down the barrier, and opened my mind to other opportunities for work abroad. The challenges you face and how you overcome them help you in so many ways.