Studying abroad was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. My sophomore year of college, I made the decision to give up living with my friends in an off-campus apartment the following year so that I could study abroad in England during the spring semester. The summer before my junior year, I finally settled on the perfect school. The University of Bath was located in a beautiful little town just outside of London. Going to school in the SUNY system meant that I could go to any school that SUNY had study abroad arrangements with and pay SUNY tuition, and it didn’t take long for me to decide this was the perfect one. I fell in love with it almost instantly, and began filling out the application that same afternoon.
After submitting the first portion of the application, the study abroad advisor from the SUNY school I was applying through emailed me. We spoke about the exchange program, which would allow me to go to the University of Bath in the place of one of their students and save me thousands of dollars. I applied to be the exchange student, and I can’t remember ever being happier or more excited than I was when I found out that my advisor’s department had decided to nominate me.
Unfortunately, the excitement did not last long. When I was accepted into the University of Bath, they told me at the bottom of the acceptance letter that I would have to take biochemistry courses in order to be the exchange student. I am a psychology major. This was nowhere in the description of the program, and my advisor was supposed to tell me. In the months that I had been studying the school website and working through the application process, it never once came up and it was now too late to apply to other schools.
Almost immediately after I got that email, there was an email from my advisor saying she had forgotten to mention the biochemistry aspect. I was angry, and sent her an email saying that it would be a waste of my money to take a semesters worth of courses that had nothing to do with my major, and that if there was nothing she could do for me, then I was out. She apologized over and over again, and scrambled to get me into an exchange program that ended up being two months longer than I was able to do, and thousands of dollars more. The weekend I was supposed to make my decision, my grandma ended up needed emergency surgery, and that drastically influenced my decision. I didn’t go.
I still remember sitting down in my living room one day over that winter break, looking at the clock, and realizing that just a couple months before I had almost booked a flight for that day, and I was supposed to be on a plane to England. That winter break was without a doubt the lowest point of my college experience. A few nights later I found myself locked up in my room, cuddling my cat and crying on and off for over three hours. I had a full on panic attack in the middle of Texas Roadhouse before my Mom dropped me off at school, and spent a couple hours in the car with her barely able to breathe, devastated that someone else’s incompetence and the fear of being away if something happened to my grandma cost me the opportunity to do something I had always dreamed of doing. Had I known about the specifics of that exchange program, I would have applied to other schools that were similar in price and length of time.
Word of advice to anyone considering studying abroad in college: learn from my mistake, and never EVER trust that your advisor is doing their job.