Mallory is a junior journalism and psychology double major.
When I decided to come to Dallas for college, it was a big step for me. I grew up in a small town in Arkansas where the population matches the total number of undergraduate students at SMU. I had never lived in another city before, much less another state, so I was nervous about being on my own for the first time in unfamiliar territory. Two years later, I now know that this choice to broaden my horizons and come to SMU has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
With this in mind, I took the huge leap to come to London this summer with SMU to study journalism and film. As my time here is coming to a close, I can honestly say that this has also been one of the best decisions that I have made and one of the best experiences of my life. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I don’t regret a moment of it.
It’s true that I have learned a lot about British media and film through my courses. I have learned about Parliament, the British Monarchy, and the rich history of England by exploring London. I have learned about the culture of the UK and other parts of Europe by traveling on the weekends. But most important, I have learned that no matter where you are in the world, no matter what language is spoken, what currency is accepted, or what crazy foods are eaten, people are all essentially the same – most people are good.
One weekend I traveled to Prague with my friend Lesli. After a long day of touring the city, we took a tram in the wrong direction and ended up completely lost. We were standing at a tram station fumbling with our maps trying to figure out how to get back to our hostel when a man waiting at the stop approached us. This man only spoke Czech, but despite the language barrier, he was desperately trying to give us directions. He had a look in his eyes of genuine concern, even though he didn’t know us. Finally, he managed to put us on a tram sending us in the right direction.
At the time, I was just thankful to no longer be lost, but now looking back, I feel like I really taken something important away from that situation. Even though this man lived halfway around the world from the small town I grew up in and even though he spoke a different language, he still had a kindness about him. Though our cultures and lifestyles may differ, people are just people with the same wants and needs as everyone else on the planet.
My advice to anyone considering a study abroad or travel opportunity would be to jump at the chance, even if it scares you. And when you do it, take it all in because it will go by quickly. Spend an afternoon people watching. Talk with strangers. Stay out until four in the morning. Get lost – because when you do, you just might find something.