Elise Blum

Why did you decide to study abroad with AIFS through CSULB in London, England?

Elise: I knew that with my psychology degree I wouldn't be able to go abroad for very long because of time constraints and class requirements. Summer seemed to be the best fit. I have always been sure that study abroad is something I must do in college so I made it work. The least expensive option for me was to go through CSULB's study abroad short term programs.

They offered a wide variety of courses and locations. I read the Shakespeare in London course description and fell in love. Sharon Olson and the entire Education Abroad office was extremely friendly and helped me plan everything out ahead of time. The partnerships they utilize with independent companies like AIFS and ISA made me feel that much more secure in my choice. Knowing that there was a team of experienced professionals making sure everything was planned out made it that much easier for myself and my classmates to have as much fun as possible.

The world famous Globe Theatre stage in London

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

Elise: CSULB and AIFS partner to create this trip with class held on ULU campus in Bloomsbury. Because CSULB uses AIFS you have a choice of home-stay or apartment living, allowing you a unique living arrangement. You can also choose to purchase AIFS airfare rates instead of having to "go it alone" to find the best rates. From there the course itself is very flexible.

We attended 4 plays in 3 weeks of travel. We had free afternoons and weekends allowing us to see and do what we found interesting in London. The trip included an overnight excursion to Stratford-Upon-Avon where we saw a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I also planned a trip to Dublin for the whole group for 4 days on a long weekend we had off.

I would say that what made it special was being able to reach out and touch the history you were learning about. London is bathed in rich culture and historical detail that allows you to live what you are learning. You can't do that in a classroom.

Double-Decker Passing by British Parliament and Big Ben

How has this experience impacted your future?

Elise: Academically I think it has turned me into a more flexible learner. I feel as though I have the ability to multitask and accomplish more in my studies now that i have had to attempt class readings on a noisy London double-decked bus.

Professionally it has proved to me that I must do something that allows me the opportunity to meet new people, have fresh experiences, and most of all see new places! I cannot stress the importance of including study abroad on your resume or bringing it up in a job interview. It changes the way you see the world and the workplace, and it lets your employer know that you are a culturally sensitive person. You learned a lot more than what the Scottish play was on my class trip.

Personally, studying abroad didn't change everything for me. It put everything in focus. I already knew that I love to travel, meet new people, and read Shakespeare. But I learned more about my strength to lead a group and to find my way out of a sticky situation. It gave me trust in myself that you can't gain any other way.