CAPA London Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Chloe Deranek

Oct 23, 2013 10:03:59 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Chloe Deranek spent Summer in London with CAPA International Education where she learned that the sun actually does shine sometimes, that travel is one of the best things in life and how to give directions like a local. These lessons came through her classes, MyEducation events, an internship with Whizz-Kidz and exploring this global city with her new friends. Below she tells us some stories of her summer studying abroad in London and shares her advice on returning home.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
CHLOE DERANEK: My name is Chloe Deranek. I am a junior nursing student at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. I studied abroad with CAPA’s Summer London program. My hobbies include swimming, reading, hanging with friends and watching movies.

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?
CD: My first impression of London was cloudy. The sky was so grey it was hard to believe the sun would ever shine. Of course it popped out plenty of times and we had some unusually warm weather during my stay. I also immediately was impressed by the public transportation and how easy it was to use. This mostly stayed true, although I was surprised to find how much drivers lack caution when it comes to pedestrians. I was surprised by how different England was to the United States as I ignorantly assumed it would be pretty similar. I also was surprised by the lack of public restrooms - something I am sill baffled by to this day! I will never forget having to pay to use a restroom or how many times I had to run down the block looking for one!

CW: Did you complete an internship while you were abroad? If so, tell us a bit about your experience.
CD: I completed an internship with Whizz-Kidz while abroad. Whizz-Kidz is a charity that provides disabled children with mobility equipment. This was an amazing experience that allowed me to learn a lot about the charity and the process that applicants go through. The only disappointment I encountered in my experience was that I was not able to interact with the children or families even though it was promised that I would.

Photo: Student accommodation in Ealing

CW: Where in London was it that you called home during your time abroad? What did you like most about your new neighborhood?
CD: I lived in Ealing during my time in London. I loved this amazing little borough. Near the tube station about a 10-15 minute walk from my flat continues the hectic city life of London. There was shopping, restaurants, pubs, ice cream, etc. However, away from the high street were several parks and block and blocks of residential homes. I loved the huge park nearest to my flat. After a long day we would head to the park and play Frisbee and football. We met some local families as well as another group of American students. It was so cool to have that residential feel.

CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
CD: The biggest challenge was finding my way around London. Luckily the Tube is extremely easy to navigate but sometimes navigating the streets can be really hard. London is this huge diverse city and being there was the first time I was truly completely responsible for myself; that was a little challenging at times. However all challenges were overcome and I easily had the time of my life. The most rewarding moment in London was when someone stopped and asked me for directions and I was able to give tell them where to go. I really felt like a local!

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.
CD: My flatmate actually had family that live in Kent, just outside of London. We went there for a BBQ one Saturday afternoon and met all of their friends. This was early in my trip and it was really cool to exchange stories and play Frisbee. I am still in touch with one of the people I met there and we met up again after the BBQ. It's so neat to think I have friends all over the world.

CW: Talk a bit about CAPA International Education academics. What were your favorite classes and why? Did you participate in any MyEducation events?
CD: My favorite Class was Post War British Pop Culture. It was so informative and really shaped my experience abroad. I saw and learned so much more through the walking tours in the class than I ever dreamed possible. I participated in a few MyEducation events and found them to be both informative and exciting. It was really cool because they were several things that I would have done on my own, but by doing them with CAPA was able to learn much more (and do some for free).

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?
CD: The hardest part about coming back was realizing that I was not in London anymore. It was so exciting telling my stories, but hard to truly convey how amazing it all was. It was also hard realizing that others' lives went on without me. I remember being shocked that my family was tan, until they pointed out that it was July! I would recommend to take it in strides. There is a lot of excitement around coming back, but take it slow. Take your time adjusting and allow yourself to come to terms with everything!

CW: What did your study abroad experience teach you about yourself and those around you?
CD: I learned a lot about who I am while abroad. I learned that I really am a leader and that I can handle responsibility. I learned that traveling is the best thing that life has to offer and that I can manage on a budget. I learned that I am not a very diverse cook and that I belong in a place like London. I learned that others are really lessons that I can always look back too. I learned about the differences in my culture compared to those I met while abroad and I learned that the world really is a small place.

CW: When you look back at your time in London, what was the most memorable of each of these?
Sight: The top of the London Eye.
Sound: Horns (they like to honk there)!
Smell: All different smells of amazing food at Borough Market.
Texture: Sitting in the grass under my favorite tree in Hyde Park.
Taste: Late night chips from the place outside of Ealing Broadway station.

Thanks Chloe!

Topics: London, England, Interviews