Twelve first-year students jump started their academic year at USD on a 10 day journey through England. Led by Kim Grieve, dean of students and vice president of student services, these students visited Manchester, Liverpool, York, London, Conwy and Wales.
This particular faculty-led program was centered around leadership, culture and music. USD has a partnership with Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, England, which is where the students kicked off their adventure abroad. In the midst of sightseeing, the students also discovered their leadership styles and gave presentations throughout the trip.
Grieve said the trip was a rewarding experience for her as well as the students.
“I’ve been taking students to Ireland for several years and often times, it’s juniors and seniors,” Grieve said. “And the one thing they always say is, ‘I wish I would’ve done this earlier.’ So I thought, why not do a pre-freshmen trip so students have the opportunity to go sooner to a study abroad opportunity.”
When Katie Brust, first-year medical biology and studio art double major, prepared to go USD, she received an email and postcard about the trip. She filled out a brief application and packed her bags for England.
“I was just really interested in going to England because I’ve never been there before,” Brust said. “It was really interesting to compare England with America, especially in the schooling system. I’d really like to go back.”
Brust said this experience prepared her to come to USD and learn to be on her own.
“I can’t imagine coming to USD without this experience, just because I got to meet new students and faculty and get used to the college life in a different setting,” Brust said. “I’m super grateful, it was so much fun to meet my fellow classmates before coming here. I think it really just set me up to be an independent individual. It inspired me to become a study abroad ambassador.”
Throughout the trip, students visited sights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the International Slave Museum.
Grieve said the trip was beneficial to new students because it allowed them to build relationships with fellow students before coming to campus.
“Getting to know the awesome students was the highlight of the trip for me, “ Grieve said. “I also enjoyed each one of our side trips and watching students grow and learn and be open-minded to the experiences we were having.”
Saige Gourneau, first-year medical biology major, found out about the trip on Facebook and decided to fill out an application right before the deadline.
Gourneau said she traveled abroad before but this was her first time in England.
“My favorite part about the whole trip was going to York and all the different places around England,” Gourneau said. “It was cool to get to see the different regions. I’ve been to Italy before, so it was cool to go to another part of Europe. I plan on going back there.”
Grieve said traveling abroad before coming to college helps students become more comfortable with being in a college setting.
“I think the most important thing is that they really feel confident coming to campus,” Grieve said. “They’ve been able to step outside their comfort zone and be okay with that.”
The Center for Academic and Global Engagement organizes all the study abroad opportunities available at USD.
Kylie Christiansen, first-year medical biology major, was another one of the twelve students who traveled to Europe. Christiansen said it opened her eyes to a whole new culture she had never experienced before.
“We got a lot of free time in Liverpool and York and just got to walk around and see all the different people,” Christiansen said. “They act completely different there. My favorite part was being able to experience a completely different place with people I had never met before. We all met in the airport, which was crazy. We built such good relationships over just 10 days.”
Being from a small town, Christiansen said she was used to being in the same place with the same people so this trip let her step outside of her comfort zone.
“I think I learned how to talk to people more because I grew up in one place from kindergarten to graduation,” Christiansen said. “Then I was just thrown into this thing, where I met these new people and had to get to know them or I would have no one to talk to. I worked on my communication skills and became more comfortable talking to strangers. It just expands the amount of people you know. “
Gourneau said she plans on studying abroad during her time at USD and returning to England.
“It gave me more confidence coming into my first year,” Gourneau said. “I met so many people who go to school here and made new friends. I think that everyone should study abroad at least once in their college career.”