A Study Abroad Experience Four Years in the Making

Jun 25, 2018 1:30:00 PM / by Irene Kanthan

Alice Ding

Alice is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Computer Science and Marketing major at Northeastern University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.

In her first post, Alice recounts how her high school teacher's advice to study abroad stuck with her and shares why she went through this process independently to fulfill her summer abroad experience.


Study abroad. Even before entering college, I knew that it was something I’d have to do. I distinctly remember sitting in my AP Spanish class my senior year of high school and my teacher talking about her own experiences with studying out of the country during college.

“If you ever have the chance, take it. I promise it’s an experience you won’t forget.”

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Summer2018_From Alice Ding - The London EyeSummer is the time to go to London, known for one of the rainiest cities in the world,
and yet almost everyday has been as beautiful as this!

I can remember how she was sitting, how she said it, and how those words have stuck with me ever since. Others I’ve talked to have emphasized the same thing, encouraging me at any and every opportunity to go abroad. “Do it, it’ll change your life forever.”

Fast forward 4 years and I was entering my own senior year of college. I realized very suddenly that I was running out of time. My home university co-op program makes things a bit different in terms of when people can study abroad and I knew from the start that I didn’t want to do an entire semester. Being involved in student leadership makes things even more difficult since leaving campus as an officer on an executive board is almost impossible. If I do it, I knew it’d have to be during the summer.

I’m no stranger to travel. I’ve had the privilege of going on family vacations once every year or so to places either in the U.S., such as The Grand Canyon, Disney World, Las Vegas, etc., and globally to countries like Mexico, Canada, China, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Russia, and more. I also had the privilege of participating in an exchange program during my junior year of high school when I spent 2 weeks in Madrid, Spain.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Summer2018_From Alice Ding - Juxtaposition of Old and New BuildingsSomething unique about London: the juxtaposition of architecture.
I can't remember a city more fun to walk down.
The mixture of old and new buildings fascinates me,
giving me something new to look at no matter what street I'm walking on.

I’ve seen many parts of the world and I considered each trip as a way to expand my boundaries, learn more, and embrace culture in a way that can’t be done through just reading books or watching videos. Every trip was and should be viewed as an adventure, a new opportunity, and I knew that this study abroad experience would be no different.

I knew that if I went out of the states, I would want to go to a country or city I’ve never been to before. My parents supported me in my desire to go, knowing that I was independent enough to make my own decisions and responsible enough to take classes that counted towards my degree, letting it not be essentially a “waste of money.” They felt even more comfortable when I eventually settled on London, a city diverse in nature and one where I spoke the main language. My parents have also been there before, letting their personal experiences encourage my own.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Summer2018_From Alice Ding - A Panoramic Shot of LondonDuring the CAPA-arranged bus tour, one of my favorite spots to take shots from;
featuring one of my suitemates!

My friends were envious and excited for me. Not many people study abroad at Northeastern due to scheduling issues so in a way, even if I was late to the game, I was lucky I could fit it into my degree and timetable alike. A select few of my friends have done it before and especially for those who went to London, I was told about their adventures and experiences. My friends who had gone to London even gave me advice and recommendations that I’d enjoy it. The encouragements from my friends and family only hyped me up even more, solidifying my decision to study abroad in the city of London with CAPA.

Submitting my application was simple. I didn’t need to go to my advisor with any questions and I did everything independently for the most part, with Northeastern University staff reaching out to me once everything was submitted to confirm that I was going abroad. My CAPA advisor was excited for me, only making me happier with my decision to see that she too wanted me to go and she was helpful with any questions or concerns I had about visas, living accommodations, and more.

With the support of my family, the encouragement of my friends, the helpfulness of my advisors, and everything submitted, I was finally ready to go to London!

Thanks Alice!

Alice's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA London Program

Topics: London, England, Study Abroad, First Thoughts