Long Distance

Going to school abroad can be rewarding but tricky


Nathaniel Martin, Staff Writer

Elizabeth Clayton was 4,000 miles from home when disaster struck. The locals had not heard of “whipped” cream.

“My least favorite word is squirty cream,” the freshman at Oxford University (yes, that Oxford) said while laughing.

Adjusting to college can be really hard for any student as they begin life away from family and friends. But it can especially hard for students who choose to study internationally.

More than a year ago, Clayton applied to and was accepted into Oxford. And contrary to urban legend, the way into one of the most prestigious schools on the planet isn’t that bad.

Clayton applied to the university just like any other school in the US. The exception: she had to fly across the pond and give an interview.

“The interviews were like oral exams,” she said. “They were really intense and scary, but I loved them because I was talking about something I loved.”

Within a few months, she was admitted. Then came the real challenge. She was going to move across an ocean and live away from almost everything she knew. All students who go off to college enter a phase where they feel alone. Clayton had this feeling on steroids.

“American high school is so different,” she said. “It was hard to find things to talk about.”

While connecting with fellow students at a foreign college could be difficult, culture shock is something all foreign students must face. It might not be as bad for Clayton at Oxford because the language is English, but there are some noticeable differences.

“I’ve noticed being outside of my own news cycle,” Clayton mentioned.

She’s heard almost nothing about the midterms back home, but is an expert on the European issue Brexit. That being said, something Clayton noticed is that anywhere in the world, students are still students.

“You do the same things,” she said. “You go to school, you eat, you hangout with friends.”

Although there are certainly some challenges to going to college overseas, there are advantages to being a foreigner. Besides being more new and interesting experiences than your average British student, Clayton mentioned that knowing nothing about current English events or shows forces her to have deeper conversations with her friends.

“We can’t do the normal easy small talk,” she said. “We have to jump to things that are important.”

Clayton isn’t the only LFHS student to explore going to college abroad. Senior Grayson Pruett confirmed her admission into Franklin University in Switzerland earlier this week. She is more than excited to begin her time as a student next year.

“Everything Franklin offered seemed like an adventure I couldn’t pass up,” Pruett said.

Pruett knew Franklin was the school for her after hours of research. Traveling to Europe for a college visit is a logistical nightmare, but Pruett already had a good idea of what the Swiss school would be like.

“My mom went to Franklin for her junior year,” she said.

The prospect of living in another country for an extended period of time doesn’t worry Pruett too much. In fact, she’s thrilled to meet new people and see new places. Anyone who knows her well can attest to that excitement.

But not everything is peachy keen for her. Like most upcoming college students, she’s terrified of the isolation she will soon have to endure.

“It’s far away and I’ll only come home once a year,” Pruett said. “I won’t have a secure group of friends to fall back on.”

Stepping back and looking big picture, college is the first time many people are forced to make new friends since Kindergarten. Being uprooted from support systems, family, and culture are common among all college students. No matter where they go to school. Internationally, or domestically.