Emily Field spent this summer studying abroad and traveling in London and various other countries! Read more about her experience, including her favorite memories and advice for future travelers!
Can you start by telling me your name, year and major?
Emily Field, senior and fashion merchandising.
Where in the World were you this summer?
I was in London for about two months when the summer began. Then I went to a lot of different places like Spain, Italy, Ireland and Scotland and others, so that was really fun. We did the whole backpacking thing. Never again.
When we went to Italy we went to about five cities in four days. We did Rome in five hours – I don’t know how you can do that but we did it, so that was really fun. But, I’ll never do it again – we stayed at a campsite outside of Venice and I am not a camper. That’s as close to roughing it as I will be. We stayed in these things called “yurts” – they’re collapsible cabins that you can pick up and move around.
What led you to going to Europe and traveling around?
In the fashion merchandising program at VCU, they start students in the major with everything that you can do and then they try to integrate as much as possible throughout your four-year career. So, right when we started, a few people came in to talk to us about study abroad and they mentioned London. And ever since I can remember, in high school even, I wanted to go to London. I couldn’t tell you why – I don’t know where the idea came from, probably One Direction, who really knows, but that’s just always been some place that I’ve really wanted to go. So when I heard that I could do that, actually go to London, I just really wanted to do it. We have a couple of programs associated with fashion in London. I ended up going through a third party because I knew my spot would be guaranteed. I was able to get a lot of courses to transfer back – I was able to take three of the four marketing classes that I needed.
Was this your first time out of the country?
No, I’ve been to Russia a few times for mission trips. So, that was really my first out-of-country experience. I did that when I was either 14 or 15.
Were you scared?
Oh, yeah. 110 percent. Mainly because I’ve never flown by myself. I’ve lived away from my parents for a couple of years, so that wasn’t really so much of an issue, so much as just being an ocean away, but it was very liberating. And after you get over the initial shock of being so far away, and if anything happens you really can’t call your parents, you know, it’s very liberating and very freeing, you don’t answer to anyone. It’s like your freshman year of college all over again, where you figure out you can do things without talking to anyone.
What was your favorite experience?
Traveling was really fun, and I loved it. But, honestly, the friends that you make would have to be the best part. Our dorms were set up where we were all in one hallway, with our own separate rooms and bathrooms and little kitchens. So, we all lived right next door to each other, and we would be able to go to each others room in the middle of the night. I can honestly say that my best memories were randomly singing Disney songs at 2 a.m. and having one of our friends who had her window open below us hearing us and sending us messages saying that if that wasn’t us, she’d be really disappointed. Going around London and traveling, just seeing the world, is really fun but also incredibly relaxing. It’s very calming to just be around people you know.
Do you have any advice for anyone hoping to go abroad?
Just do it. You can plan as much as you want and you can sit down and have a whole schedule and a timeline, but you can’t have everything. Something will happen – it never goes according to plan, you just have to do it and go with the flow. If you go, plans fly out the window, and you need to be able to change, adapt and go with it. Just because things change doesn’t mean that your experience will be worse and it doesn’t mean that it will be the most amazing thing in the world – it just means that it’ll be whatever you make it. If you make it bad, it’s bad, if you make it good, it’s good. So if you’re going to do it, just do it. And don’t be afraid. VCU offers a lot of programs and you’ll find exactly where you want to be and where you want to go.