My Study Abroad Experience: Sunayana Basa
Where and when did you study abroad/off-campus?
I studied abroad spring semester of my junior year (Spring 2017) in London, UK.
What did you do for your internship and what kinds of projects were you assigned (if you had one)?
I interned at a non-profit called Walkabout Foundation. I had a couple different jobs there – since I have had experience with social media from working as a social media intern the summer before sophomore year, I helped the foundation figure out ways to increase their social media presence by researching best social media practices. As a finance major, I was also assigned to work with the CFO of the nonprofit, Marina, to organize donations on Quickbooks for their annual report and to work on Salesforce to manage their donor information.
What are two things you learned from your time abroad/off-campus that you may not have learned otherwise?
One of the biggest things I learned studying abroad is just how much bigger and diverse the world is than expected. I feel like the faraway places you read about never seem so different on a computer screen or in a book, but when you actually visit these places, you recognize that your imagination couldn’t possibly fathom how different they actually are. Another thing I learned (or more gained) from study abroad was a greater appreciation for America. When I visited countries surrounding London, other young people I would meet would always seem to revere America and were so in awe of the things in the US that I take for granted. They would always exclaim how it would be a “dream come true” to study in the US, especially at a school like BU. I think seeing this adoration in different countries definitely made me appreciate my parents, the faculty, and administration of BU for giving me the opportunity to travel and see a new culture.
What surprised you most about your time abroad/off-campus?
I think that, despite the similar culture of the US and the UK, there were some subtle differences between the two countries that definitely surprised me. For example, British humor is more dry and raunchy than American humor, and often times I would interpret a sarcastic joke as being genuine until someone told me otherwise. In fact, one English person I met even commented that in her experience, it was funny to joke around with Americans because we are so polite!
What was the hardest part of your experience?
The hardest part of my experience was feeling like I was missing out on what was happening in Boston while I was away. Social media always makes it so easy to see exactly what your friends are doing and where they are, and it always is a little bit bittersweet to realize that they are hanging out without you. To be fair, however, the fact that I was in a city as big and beautiful as London definitely made them feel jealous at times too.
What was the best part of your experience?
The best part of being in London was that we could travel a lot because the city is such a hub in Europe. In the US, you can fly for hours and still barely make it to another coast, let alone another country. Since London is pretty central, we were able to take a quick two-hour flight to travel to so many cool countries in weekend trips. I especially loved visiting Malta and Scotland—they were absolutely stunning!
What are your best tips for those planning to study where you did?
Use your time wisely. Everyone says this, but study abroad flies by, and it is important to make sure you are really doing what you want with your time! Especially in a city like London, there is so much to see and do, and there are so many student discounts which makes it very affordable to go to different places. Also, travel! London is a hub and you should check out what is in the city, but if you can, getting out and exploring other cities and countries is a must.
Are there any hidden gems that your classmates should check out?
All the outdoor markets are totally worth going to, if only for the food! There are so many more than just Camden Market, like Portabello Road Market and Spittlefield Market. If you are looking for a view, you can definitely go to the London Eye but also check out the Tate Modern Museum’s top floor for a cool view of London! I would also check out Little Venice and Chinatown for the food. If possible, try to get out of London (to Oxford or Cambridge)—both cities are beautiful!