GSM Spotlight: Shannon Foley

Year Senior

Major Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Psychology

Minor Cognitive Science


Study Abroad Program University of Nottingham (Exchange), Nottingham, England, Spring 2017

What specific factors influenced your decision to go abroad?

I was never the kind of person who sought out change, and suddenly all I wanted was to be somewhere completely new that was unfamiliar and I would know no one. I decided it was just something I had to go for and not to look back or get afraid of, and it ended up being the best decision I've made since being at UConn. I think it's easy to feel like you're sort of stuck somewhere, and studying abroad definitely gave me the space and freedom to go out and figure out what it was that I wanted and the opportunity to experience education and culture in a whole new way.

How was the academic system in England different than the US?

The academic system there was surprisingly different from what I was used to at UConn. It definitely depends on what your major is and what year classes you take, but at Nottingham my work almost completely consisted of readings, and my final exams made up 100% of my grade. The grading system is also much different, and it's just something you have to get used to when you're here. It is much harder to get a really high grade there, but a 70 is also equivalent to getting an A at UConn. So, if you get a grade back that is something you would be upset about back at home, it probably isn't nearly as bad as you think!

What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most of their study abroad experiences?

Don't be afraid to try new things! Go places you've never heard of, talk to people everywhere you go, eat something that might sound weird, and step out of your comfort zone a little bit. Just do as much as you can, because the time flies by and soon you'll be flying back home and it will seem silly that you were ever worried about going!

What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at UConn?

As lame as it might sound, I honestly think I got to know myself in a way that I don't think I would have back at UConn. Studying abroad gives you more independence than you have probably ever experienced, and it is really up to you to go out and figure out what it is you want to see, and do, and accomplish. I made more of an effort to meet new people and try new things than I did at UConn, and I definitely gained a clearer understanding of who I am as a person independently and within a group of people. This probably goes without much surprise, but I got to experience so many different cultures through studying abroad than I could ever imagine back at UConn. Traveling throughout Europe you interact with so many different people and learn about the customs and traditions they hold and have the opportunity to really see them in comparison to other places.

If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?

Go for yourself. Really take this opportunity to go somewhere alone and figure out what you like to do. I'm not saying you will go and become a whole new person and figure out so many different things about yourself, but you will be completely independent with no real influence from your friends and family at home for the first time ever probably, and it will be up to you to decide what you want to do with yourself and all your time!