Illinois State University criminal justice sciences major Magaly Avila writes about her recent study abroad experience in the United Kingdom:

My main desire to study in another country came from my interests in traveling and previous experience. While attending Parkland College I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica for a short period of time. The time I spent there was great, but this time I wanted the experience to last a little longer.

I chose the United Kingdom because it offered criminal justice, the field of study I am pursuing. While in the U.K., I attended Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. The courses I took were Crime, Media, and Culture; Understanding Violence; and Youth Crime and Justice.

I was able to visit quite a few places within Scotland such as Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct, and many more. I also visited a few castles and visited London. Aside from Scotland, I got the opportunity to travel to Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, and Spain where I walked down a street with my last name (not likely to happen in the U.S.). I cannot choose a favorite place because I enjoyed myself in all of them and the experience was phenomenal.

My journey began even before I arrived at my destination. There were several things that needed to take care of such as registering for courses, accommodations, expenses, packing, etc. Once I was all settled in my new home away from home, the fun began. I met and became friends with people from all over the world and was able to learn so much from each and every one of them. While in Scotland, I was able to experience their traditional parties, football (soccer) matches, nightlife, and even picked up on their accent and common phrases.

As for the other trips I took, they also helped learn so much more about the world and helped me appreciate what I do have even more. When it came to my university, it was quite different from Illinois State. However, I was fortunate enough to have great professors and classmates because they made me feel welcomed. Although I was having the time of my life while I was abroad, I did get a little homesick and started missing the comfort of my own apartment, family, and friends. The presence of my new friends helped me through, which is why it is important to start building bonds almost right away.

My overall study abroad experience gave me the opportunity to meet friends and create memories that I will always cherish. Not only that, but I was also able to learn so much more about myself due the experiences I faced.