Student profile: Charlotte Jones
Charlotte Jones, an English literature and linguistics student from the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, shares with us her experience of studying on a semester abroad at Boston College, USA last year.
Last year, I went to Boston College for one semester in the fall. I wanted to go to the United States because I’d never been before and wanted to try something different. I also knew that I wanted to travel around while I was there, so Boston was a great pick for this. I had quite a few American flatmates living with me in first year so I asked them about their universities and why they decided to study abroad. I feel that their experiences definitely influenced my own.
I’m originally from a little town in south Wales, so even coming to London was a big decision for me. I’d always wanted to study abroad so when I was picking which universities to apply for I made sure they all had a study abroad programme. I was nervous because living abroad is a big change, but I knew that I would always take the opportunity if it arose. I managed to get the grades I needed to get into Boston College and could start to put everything into place.
Boston College itself is a campus university, so sort of like Queen Mary in that sense. It’s much older though and very gothic – it actually reminds me of Hogwarts. When I first got there, I had an international assistant who was a third year student. She was really nice and looked after me a lot, so I could approach her with any questions I had and she would help me out. I lived with three other exchange students off campus too who were all just as nice. Boston College has a free bus service, which runs around the whole area so it was easy to get to campus. The gym was free, which was a bonus.
I study English Literature and Linguistics at QMUL, so I was used to doing a lot of essays. I did quite a few exams while I was at Boston, but that was okay because it was obvious what you had to know and what you didn’t have to know. The workload was higher but the actual material wasn’t harder. All the classes at Boston College are quite small which I like, and I had a lot of contact hours with my professors, which was helpful, so you get to know them really well. If I found that I was ever struggling with anything then I could just talk to them and they would fix the problem straight away. Overall, it was completely manageable and I actually did better in that first semester abroad than I did in my first year.
There were definitely times when I felt a bit homesick, especially around Halloween and Thanksgiving, mainly because this was the time when other people were starting to go home and visit their families. I’m really close with my family and that was the only time I felt really down about it. There were other people there who stayed, and many exchange students stayed together. I ended up spending Thanksgiving with my American friend and her family, which was great. Quite a few people offer to do that for international students, but Boston College had a system where if nobody did offer to host us over the holidays then the lecturers would do so. You could tell that the professors really took care of the students in this way. I managed to visit Salem for Halloween and saw the Witch Trials museums too. There was so much to do and it was all amazing.
I feel like I’m much more organised having experienced a semester abroad than I was before. I’m doing so many things now such as helping to promote opportunities abroad, working two jobs, and volunteering at a food bank. I’m also planning to become a teacher next year so I’m currently working on that too. I’ve gotten more involved on committees this year and I’ve also joined the hockey team. I think it’s really helped me grow as a person and encouraged me to try so many new things which I hadn’t experienced before. I’m also much more independent, for example I went to Philadelphia by myself just because nobody else wanted to go, so now I have the confidence that I can go wherever I want to by myself because I’ve already done it. I’m now also more willing to approach people and have a conversation with them. Overall, I feel like my experience has equipped me with plenty of new skills for the future, which will give me an advantage when it comes to life after university.