The Catholic University of America

  Kayla Shields - St Mary's University



Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. While at SMUC your able to get a true feel for English culture by living and attending class with other SMUC students.
  2. SMUC is only a quick train ride into London so while there one is able to easily get to the city to see all of the sites but also able to enjoy the quaintness of a local suburb
  3. SMUC is located right in between two small towns both only a five minute walks from campus. In this towns one can find plenty of pubs, restaurants, stores, and a Starbucks:)
  4. There is a pub on campus and the school has an excellent student organization that offers great organized social events such as pub crawls, student clubs, and a campus ministry
  5. The professors and abroad advisors are very accommodating. Not only are abroad students pick up from the airport upon arrival and given an excellent orientation, but the professors are also very helpful to international students constantly checking in, helping with assignments, and understanding of travel plans.  


What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  • Figure out your classes with Ms. Krichbaum ahead of time so you have plenty of time to contact SMUC to get the needed syllabi so you don't have to worry about that when you get over there.
  • How much I would miss lunch. The meal plan the school offers does not include lunch, so make sure you budget money so a few groceries a week to sustain you.
  • Do not stress if you encounter something unexpected while traveling. At some point your flight will be delayed, you loose your boarding pass, or your luggage will weigh to much. Relax, it's normal, breath and roll with it, it will be alright.
  • Do not be afraid of home stays. The dorms are very loud all the time, which is great if you are going out, but there are nights when you just want to sleep or have a test the next day and its very hard to get sleep with all the noise. So look into home stays. I didn't hear of one person who didn't like their host.
  • There is no specified break in the semester. Most courses have a week off but that does not mean that all of your courses break will fall on the same week. 


A Funny Story or Situation

"Lost in Translation"

I always encountered the funniest cultural differences when I would forget that words mean different things in American English than they do in British English. For example when I would go the bar and order fries and an on tap beer and what I should have said was chips and a cider. Most of the time the bartender would laugh at me and then I'd laugh at myself and fix my mistake. Most places know that your American and knew what you meant anyway so its just something for you to laugh about and add to your stories while abroad.


An Embarrassing Situation

I usually felt uncomfortable when I had to give a class presentation because as soon as I opened my mouth it was apparent that I was not British. At first this was embarrassing because I felt like people were starring at me and I would use different phrases that are culturally incorrect in England. However the kids in my class were really understanding and my professors were so helpful and by the end of the semester I had absolutely no problem talking in front of the class.  


The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

Sinead McKenney was my favorite professor at SMUC. She teaches most American history courses but I had her for CIvil Rights in America. She was so accommodating. Every class at the end of class she would ask me how I was doing, where I was traveling to, and if I needed any help with anything in her class or others. She also had an immense knowledge of the subject she was teaching. She was not American, she is natively from Ireland but it was apparent that she had studied the subject thoroughly and very much enjoyed teaching. She was better at teaching American history than many of the teachers I've had here in America throughout my educational career.



I lived in De Marriliac which is a freshman dorm where they usually place all of the international students wishing to live in dorms. The dorm rooms were great. You have your own rooms with a small bathroom in it which is wonderful. A cleaning lady comes in every morning to take out the trash and cleans the room thoroughly once a week. The only problem with the dorms as I have stated above they don't really have R.A.'s here so there isn't really any way for anyone to regulate noise in the building. Although the party quality of the dorm is awesome on nights when your going out it is difficult on nights when you just want some sleep. There was one week when a fire alarm went off every night in the middle of the night because someone was so drunk when returning home they would pull it.
I would look into home stays. I had friends who really enjoyed their home-stays. Many got their own rooms and everyone I talked to love their home stays. I was the best of both worlds because they got breakfast in the morning and didn't have to worry about cafeteria hours ( at the cafeteria breakfast is only served until 9:15) and in a home-stay you can go to the dorm to party and then go home to sleep:)

Student Profile:

Major: History

Hometown: Haverhill, MA

Program: St Mary's University

Term Abroad: Fall 2011

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