For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jul 01 2016
by Jade McAlmont

Why I Chose to Go to College Overseas

By Jade McAlmont - Jul 01 2016
As everyone settles in to enjoy their biggest and arguably the most important summer of their lives, my journey just begins. In the next few months, I’ll be attending a school overseas, away from everything I’ve known for the last eighteen years of my life.

My choice to go a public university in the middle of London, England wasn’t an easy one. Actually, I had danced around the possibility for the longest time. As a first generation American, I always imagined to carry out the most American life to an extent growing up. I wanted for my life to be different from the adventures that my parents had from overseas during their adolescence. However, as time went on, I realized the path that I had to take, whether I wanted to or not.

In January, I had gotten accepted to every university I had applied to. I got numerous offers from top New York schools with lots of scholarships and extra aid, but I wanted to explore every option I could have possibly had. I emailed a school officer at a school in London that my cousin attended for three years asking whether I could visit the campus at some point in the forthcoming months, but I never thought that would be the place that I would eventually call home.

I ended up going to London the following month, and was overwhelmed by the support I had while I was there from my family that lived in the surrounding neighborhoods in the city. The first thing I can remember seeing after leaving the airport once I landed was the school I was supposed to visit, and it looked so modern. I had always liked the feel of an older university, with buildings that looked like castles, had student graffiti inside of them and were in close proximity to things. This university was the opposite of everything I would have liked. Eventually, I had warmed up to it. Once I had gotten to actually visit the school a few days into my trip, I had appreciated it, and then started to believe that I would end up staying there.

After my two week London trip, I had seen all of the financial aid awards I got, sat down with my mother and realized that it was in my best interest to study overseas for college. Costs were a major factor, and I felt very uncomfortable to ask her to sign off for ten years on tens of thousands of dollars in loans. My mom was and still is a single parent, and had already done so much for me growing up. I couldn’t bare to think that she would be willing to do even more in that way.

Schools in England, and in Europe in general, are much cheaper and take less time to complete, which are both two added bonuses. A bachelor's degree only takes two and a half years to three years to get, depending on how much work you put in to get it. A master’s degree only takes four years to obtain. Most private and public schools in England are a quarter of the cost of attendance for a private school. Textbooks and most extras at a school in America are all included in an English school’s tuition.

The biggest force of my decision was my drive to be different. I wanted to do something that was unheard for most kids. My mother, being from London herself, had entertained the idea of my post-secondary education being done in the UK, but I never thought I’d have the courage to go. She had believed in me to do big things after I was done with high school, and I had always wanted to do big things in my life. I wanted to be my own hero more than anything, and with the opportunity that I was given by her and God, I couldn’t pass it up. Most people would kill for a chance to study overseas for a full three years, and there I was feeling unsure in myself. I was overcoming my own personal obstacles, which caused me to doubt myself for various reasons, but I had to believe in myself to be able to do something extreme.

The biggest challenge is getting there for sure. As I won’t make the move on my own, it will take all of the help I can get. There’ll be a lot of manual work done on my part, but it’ll be worth it. I’ll miss my home in New York, but I’m excited to see what adventures I’ll get myself into in London. It’ll take lots of extra work but I’m ready to put the work in. It’s all a part of the greatest story ever to be told.

Lead Image Credit: Jade McAlmont

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Jade McAlmont - London South Bank University

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