Briana Ragler felt at home the moment she arrived in London. She returned to the States feeling like she would always be welcome in the city that hosted her study abroad program through CAPA International Education during Spring semester 2013. She learned a lot about herself, the people around her and this global city through exploration and classes like "Writing the City" and "British Popular Culture". Below, she talks about some of her best memories, her challenges and her aspirations.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
BRIANA RAGLER: I am from Baltimore and I’m currently in my final semester of college, so looking forward to be graduating in December. I do photography in my spare time and music as well. I also create when I have free time. People call my an artist in such a way. I studied abroad for the spring semester 2013 in London through CAPA International Education. My home institution is Hood College and my major is communications arts with a concentration in digital media arts. My favorite hobbies are basically doing freelance work and living life.
CW: Tell us about your first impressions of London and any that changed by the time you went home. What surprised you most about your host country?
BR: My first impression of London was basically a home feeling. It felt weird in a good way. At the end when it was time for me to leave London my impressions of London stayed the same. At the end I was calling London my second home. The main thing that surprised me of my host country was how people knew more about my hometown. I was often shocked as to how people love Baltimore and the music that is happening here. I am glad that I had a little piece of home there.
CW: Where in London was it that you called home during your time abroad? What did you like most about your new neighborhood?
BR: Camden Town was my home. I love it to be honest. Before I came to London I was always interested in that area of London because it represented me in a way. Camden was very lively and energetic. Would I live there again when moving back to London? No. But I had a good time living in that area.
CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
BR: Having to rely solely on God and myself. I learned that I can survive on my own in another land. It was not hard, but I learned to trust myself and my instincts to the fullest. Besides, I was there for months with no phone, so everything was twice as hard, but I managed.
CW: Did you have a chance to interact with the local community? If so, tell us the story of one interaction that stood out for you.
BR: Yes I did. I still talk to some people from London. I wanted to go out one night and jam to some of the music I listen to. I was searching all over London for a spot that would play hip hop and smooth music. I ended up going to this place called The Social where I met a blogger/model, two DJs and a host of other people. It was great, because the blogger blogged about a artist from Maryland that I talk to on occasion.
CW: Talk a bit about CAPA International Education academics. What were your favorite classes and why? Did you participate in any MyEducation events?
BR: My favorite classes were Writing the City of London, British Popular Culture and my theater class. The reason they were my favorites was because they each helped me better understand the city and how to get around a lot more. For the MyEducation events, I did attend some, and they proved to be very helpful.
CW: Now that you are back in the States, have you felt any sort of reverse culture shock? If so, what advice do you have for other students experiencing the same?
BR: Yes! I have been struggling to adjust, but I know that after I graduate, I am moving back. I realized that my life is no longer here in Maryland and that London is where my life is. I just have to finish school.
CW: What did your study abroad experience teach you about yourself and those around you?
BR: To always been on alert and to trust whatever your instincts say. And that I can live by myself away from comfort zone and conquer all my fears.
CW: When you look back at your time in London, what is a memory that stick with you that involved senses other than just sight?
BR: The first day that I arrived, it was wet, cold, raining and dark. There was really no smell, but I look back at that day because it was the day that I became me and the day my new life started.