Rosana Urbaez, Spain

Samantha Hilton studied abroad at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, during the Fall 2012 semester.

Photo: Samantha Hilton in Edinburgh, Scotland

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to expand my reality. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that I was unfamiliar with, and I wanted to grow into the person I was destined to be. Everything I wanted to earn from studying abroad, I was granted. It was the best decision I ever made.

Why did you choose this location for your study abroad experience?

I chose to study at the University of Stirling in Scotland for financial reasons. I really wanted to study in Scotland, but the programs offered in Edinburgh and Glasgow were too expensive. Stirling was a direct exchange program, so all of my UMass financial aid, student loans, and grants transferred to pay for my time spent away.

What was the most challenging part of being in another country?

For me, the most challenging part was being so far away from home. I am extremely close with my family and friends, so not being able to see them for over three months, and only being able to talk to them a few times a week was a huge adjustment for me.

What memorable experiences did you have while studying abroad?

Anytime I spent in Edinburgh was memorable. Not only did I make great friends, but the city offers so much excitement and history. Another memorable experience was Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany for my 21st birthday. It was the trip of a lifetime. Finally, I was able to visit Prague which was the most beautiful place I have ever been, and I was lucky enough to visit with a dear friend from my hometown.

What were some important things you learned while studying abroad?

The most important thing I think anyone learns when studying abroad is the true meaning of independence. You are uprooted from a life you are familiar with, and put into an environment without any knowledge of the social norms. You learn to adjust, and you learn to take care of yourself without the assistance and comfort that you’re used to.

How did your experience of studying abroad affect your life then and after?

The person I became abroad is nowhere near the same in comparison to the person I was before I left. Not only am I more mature, independent, and confident, but I accomplished and overcame hardships I never would have been faced with had I not gone. I found myself when I was abroad, and I learned to be more appreciative of the life I had back home. I learned to appreciate the little things which are things I think a lot of people in my generation take for granted.

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