The Study Abroad Newsletter

European Journey

Caralyn Fitzpatrick

Biology major
University of Birmingham, England

I was lucky enough to spend 6 months in Birmingham, England at an exceptional university full of diversity, history and lots of new opportunities. While I loved my host university and spending time in England, I think the highlight from my semester abroad was being able to travel to other European countries. By the end of my semester I was able to visit 10 different countries where I learned so much about different cultures, values and history and met so many incredible people. One especially memorable moment was while I was in Bucharest, Romania. Romania is a member of the European Union but is often considered to be 10 years behind the rest of the EU because its recent and intense rule under communist law. While I was in Romania I met so many amazing locals that held a lot of hope for their country despite it often being looked down upon. An eye opening moment for me was actually with my Uber driver. He was no more than 60 years old and while driving down the main boulevard he pointed at a communist block that he used to live in and recalled a moment from the 80s. He was watching from his window as the government tanks ran over protestors of the last dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. This was so shocking to me as this was so recent in history and to see the change that the country has gone through in the last 40 years and the hope instilled in the people was a beautiful sight to see. Despite such a dark, heart-wrenching past, the country and its people are filled with liveliness and hope to see a more beautiful and better Romania.

Overall my semester abroad was an amazing chance for me to gain confidence being and traveling alone all while learning about different cultures and such a vast history. It seems that many people’s semester abroad was about making long lasting friends, and while I did meet some amazing and exceptional people, my semester abroad was more a chance for me to be comfortable being on my own and exploring new places and even traveling to foreign countries with languages I don’t understand alone. It allowed me to meet intriguing locals and to keep the world (literally) at my own fingertips and I believe the confidence I gained from this will help me in life back on the Big Island.

Outside of University of Birmingham