Torero Life Abroad chronicles the life of a University of San Diego student as they participate in the study abroad experience. Follow Taylor Milam’s real-life adventures, anticipation, and experiences as she studies abroad in London for the fall semester. She is a junior at USD majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing. USD ranks first in the nation for undergraduate study abroad participation, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2011 Report. This is the third installment of the series.
It feels like I’m on a permanent vacation. I casually flew to Scotland last weekend with one of my best friends, Nora. We toured the Highlands, picnicked by Loch Ness, tried Haggis (a traditional Scottish dish made of sheep’s heart — yum), and toured Edinburgh: all in all, a beautiful weekend with a favorite friend. But, after arriving home late Monday night, I felt exhaustion seep through my body as I struggled through four hours of lecture early Tuesday morning. I consistently forget that I’m here to study.
The temptation to blow off school to enjoy the sites and culture can be overwhelming. In addition to class time being drastically shorter than it is in the States, there is also an expectation of “independent study.” Teachers expect that you are reading the assignments, studying on your own, and reading the optional materials as well. As an American student used to quizzes, graded homework, and a “participation” grade, I find it fascinating, but also challenging to stay focused. Another noticeable difference in education is that the city of London is constantly incorporated into the classroom. An oversized map of the city decorates the wall in one of my classrooms (as we read about a place in the city we mark it on the map) watching plays at the theatre is mandatory for my drama class, and walking through the British Museum with pencil and paper in hand is a normal day in art histories. The city is full of life, history, and knowledge and my teachers never fail to use that to our advantage.
In addition to classes, I joined the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) Society at Queen Mary. Being part of LGBT includes attending curry dinners, fortnightly LGBTeas at the campus coffee shop, and of course, a delightful amount of gay clubbing. In addition to letting me dive headlong into the thriving gay scene of London, the LGBT Society has introduced me to some of my most treasured friendships.
I was also fortunate enough to celebrate my 20th birthday in the glorious city of London in the past few weeks. I picnicked in Hyde Park, had a wonderful dinner with the people I love, threw a party in my flat (my flat mate even made one of his obscenely delicious cakes!), and failed at attempting to go clubbing — trying to get 25 people to a club as a collective unit is not for the faint of heart; trust me. We ended the night by devouring pastries in a cute little café in Soho. I couldn’t help but smile as I ate my croissant surrounded by my favorite people, exactly where I wanted to be.
— Taylor Milam ’14