This is the fourth in our series of posts about our lovely Spring 2017 Student Representatives! If you’d like to hear more about what our program entails and read about other student experiences from the past semester please click on our home page!
Samantha Ku has been featured on our UCEAP blog page many times by now as a highly involved and ambitious student during her year at the University of St Andrews. She is a Political Science major at her home institution of the University of California, Irvine and will be entering her senior year upon her return.
“I absolutely love Scotland to no end. The most rewarding aspect of my time at St Andrews has been my amazing friends! St Andrews is truly a very international university and it is interesting to hear different perspectives and learn more about different cultures. I turned twenty here in Scotland and I celebrated my birthday for the first time since eighth grade. It was also my first birthday away from home and though I was a little melancholic not being with my family and friends in California, my friends really made my day here in St Andrews. They’ve left me with countless memories, from being excited over £1 Jaffa Cakes sales at Tesco to taking four mile walks down West Sands at sunset.”
What has been the most challenging part about study abroad?
“There was definitely a bit of a homesickness curve. I thought I was prepared for feeling homesick as this is my second time abroad, but it was different this time around! I had a bout of homesickness at the beginning and then once or twice again during the term. However, I found that keeping in contact with family and friends back home really helped a lot. I would Skype my parents and text my friends more often when I was feeling particularly homesick and that helped me get over it faster.
Being abroad for entire year as a junior with a lot of things going on back home academically (internships, scholarships, etc.) also made it very difficult to feel comfortable sometimes. The most difficult part is juggling all of the things back home while trying to make the most of my experience here in St Andrews.”
What advice would you give to future students venturing on your program?
“Research well! Being on a year exchange is longer than you think, so make sure all of your affairs are in order back home. You will inevitably feel homesick and exhausted sometimes but reach out to friends and family on both sides of the pond and it will be better. Branch out and try new things, even if they are a bit outside of your comfort zone! St Andrews is really the Bubble after all, so you should try to keep occupied. There’s so many things to get involved in in this small town and university. While it’s a bit of a hassle compared to living in a big city, it’s also not too hard to leave the Bubble for day or weekend trips around Fife, Scotland, the UK or the Continent. Have a lot of fun here while at St Andrews but remember that it’s also a deeply historical town with a lot of charm in its coastal paths and walks; don’t forget to stop and smell the roses (or the North Sea, I suppose?).”