Grad School, Opinions, Special Projects

An 11-hour flight to a graduate degree

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to spend time in London. The idea sparked in my head at a young age. Whenever I was asked if I could travel anywhere, London was my first pick.

At first, all I wanted was to visit—to walk the beautiful streets, look at Big Ben, ride the London Eye and try a good cup of English tea. As I got older, and as my obsession with One Direction began, I fantasized about more than a visit.

I wanted a life there.

This seemed impossible for most of my life, considering I had never been out of the country until 16. It wasn’t until my second year at Long Beach State when I realized traveling to Europe and the United Kingdomwas completely attainable.

Almost everyone had told me to study abroad if I got the chance and I didn’t realize how much it would affect my future.

That summer, I went on a short-term study abroad trip to Italy and it was magical.

This trip taught me how to do everything on my own. I went everywhere you could imagine while in Italy, and even went to Switzerland for a day. During my time there, I wanted to go to any country I could but in a four-and-a-half week time span plus school, time was limited.

Nevertheless, I came home itching for the next trip. I looked at what was being offered for study abroad in my third year but decided to do a winter course with newly transferred friends in my fourth and final year.

But COVID-19 had other plans. The next trip I was supposed to go on was Amsterdam, but that quickly became a figment of my imagination more than a reality.

Quarantine began, and it was heartbreaking to know that my last chance at study abroad was being ripped away and replaced with breakout rooms and Zoom lectures. But that mindset fled quickly after returning to work and making a new friend, Ethan.

He told me that he wasn’t kidding when he said he goes to school in Ireland. All I could think after weeks of him bringing up school and what it was like was, “Is this really a possibility? Can I brave that step and go to school out there?”

The answer to my question remained unclear because my mind was fogged with hopes of the pandemic ending soon and always hearing that people in journalism tend to go back to school after working in the field.

But as summer came to an end and I was ready to start my last year at CSULB, the question remained, “Can I do this?”

After some research and a Zoom meeting with faculty in the study abroad office, I decided yes.

I am going to apply to get my graduate degree in London, England.

Many other factors helped this decision, other than the pure passion and desire I had to continue school and live in the place I always wanted to. The first one is that most graduate programs in the UK are one year for a full-time student compared to two years here in the U.S.

Another was to take into factor is price range. Every university in both the U.K. and the U.S. vary. If you want to attend a public school in the U.S., the cost will look a lot less than in the U.K., especially London, England.

But if you are looking to attend a private school here, just know that tuition, room and board abroad will still be less expensive.

There are many differences in studying here versus internationally, but in my mind, the positives outweigh the negatives. A degree is a degree, and if I can get the opportunity to study at an amazing school, in a place I have always loved for only one year of my life, then life is looking pretty good.

As I continue my journey to applying to different schools in London and navigating life amidst a pandemic, one thing that I always remind myself is how quickly our youth flees from us.

We will soon all be in our 30s and 40s navigating life as a homeowner, spouse or parent. Now is the time to follow your heart’s desires, to start a business, pick up a new hobby, backpack across the world or in my case get that graduate degree in London.

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