Q&A with the new ESC Intern: Sarah Allen-Sutter

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Let’s start with an introduction:

Hello! I’m Sarah, the new ESC Programme Intern, and I am thrilled to be back in my favourite city in the world. I first came to Edinburgh to study abroad in Fall 2017, trading the warm, sunny beaches of UC Santa Barbara for the magnificently medieval cobblestoned streets of Edinburgh. At this time, I had never been to Europe and hadn’t set foot outside of the United States since I was seven years old. Needless to say, after arriving I immediately caught the travel bug and have since visited ten countries. After graduating from UCSB in June of 2019 with a degree in Psychology and minors in both Applied Psychology and Professional Editing, I spent the next few months searching for an opportunity to work abroad, and found the perfect opportunity through UCEAP to integrate into Edinburgh as a professional.

Likes: Traveling, singing, dogs, Thai food, animals, volleyball, dogs, Harry Potter, reading, popcorn. Oh, and dogs.

Dislikes: Chewing gum, raw fish, Nutella, slow computers, wind, being allergic to dogs.

What was one of your favourite memories from your time studying abroad?

One of my favorite memories from abroad was the search for the coos:

I had only three days left in Scotland, and I STILL hadn’t seen a hairy coo. It would be an absolute atrocity to depart without seeing one, so I set out on the quest with my sister, Rita, and her now-fiancé, Nick, who were both visiting me in the city. After an hour-long bus ride and quick thirty-minute walk through a random neighbourhood, we arrived at Swanston farms. We hiked through the hills there for what seemed like hours, asking everyone we passed if they’d seen the elusive herd of highland cattle and receiving nothing but negative responses. Finally, my sister and I sat upon a rock, exhausted and ready to head home defeated. Nick, an endless funnel of energy, ran to the top of the nearest hill and disappeared, returning five minutes later with the news we had all been waiting for.

Filled with new hope and energy, we practically sprinted over the hill… and there they were. Chilling at the bottom of the hill, grass drooping lazily from their ever-chewing jaws: the hairy coos. With this quest completed, I could finally call my study-abroad experience a success.

What impact has studying abroad left on your life?

Studying abroad will impact you in ways that you can’t quite put into words. Perhaps the most noticeable difference I’ve found, after some self-reflection, would be an increase in my confidence level, especially when heading blindly into new situations. The knowledge that I was able to enter a brand new city in a foreign country in which I did not know a single soul, and not only make it through to the other side, but also find a new home for myself, has instilled in me an ability to confidently approach and conquer new situations when they arise.

What is your favourite place you’ve travelled to?

I would say Edinburgh, but I’m not sure that counts as I’m currently living here. Switzerland was really beautiful. I visited Geneva when there happened to be a medieval festival occurring: La Fête de l’Escalade. With the snow, the horses, and everyone dressed in medieval wear, it really felt as though I had travelled back in time, and it was an incredible cultural experience.

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?

Studying abroad is a truly unique opportunity that you likely won’t come across again, so take the opportunity while you can!

My more specific advice would be to have an open and flexible mindset. Try not to come into your host country with a plan of what your experience will be like, because I guarantee it will turn out differently than you expect. The same goes for choosing a host country and university. From the first time I started thinking about attending university, I knew I wanted to study abroad in England; but at the last minute, after meeting some lovely people from Scotland, I changed to the Scottish universities application, and I am eternally grateful that I did. I’m not saying you have to study in Scotland (that was just the best choice for me), but keep your mind and options open, and consider exploring new opportunities.

What does your position at the ESC entail?

My main responsibilities as ESC include keeping social media up-to-date, writing blog articles, and helping to plan and implement events and orientations. I can also pick up projects as I go and help out where needed. There seems to be a lot of creative freedom and flexibility in this position, which I am excited to explore.

What inspired you to apply for this position and what are you looking forward to the most about it?

After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, I really wanted to find a way to both work and travel. More than anything, I wanted to live in Edinburgh again, this time as a professional, and I was searching and searching for a means to do that. Then one day I received an email about the ESC intern position, and it was exactly the opportunity I was looking for! I am most looking forward to meeting all of the new students and helping them make the most of their study abroad experience.

What will you miss most about California?

I already really miss my dog Jake, and my sister’s new puppy, Luna. It will be difficult living so far from my family and a lot of my close friends, and I’m counting on my mum and sister to send lots of pet pictures!

List one interesting or unexpected fact about yourself?

When I was quite young, I ran headfirst into the sharp corner of a banister and had to get stitches. I still have a small scar on my forehead today, so I am basically Harry Potter.