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Meet Matthew Woolly

Program and Location:

Spring, University of Leeds; Leeds, United Kingdom

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I’ve always wanted to study abroad and last spring was simply the only time to do it. Why I chose to study aboard was to learn a new culture, have a global network, live apart from the United States for six months, and travel the world. I was fortunate enough to go and make friendships that will last a lifetime.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I really could live alone. At NC State, I can still live under the umbrella of my parents or of friends, but in England there was no two hour drive home. I had to set a budget for my six months of living and traveling and I made the plans and went where I wanted to go. I originally found that scary. It was an incredible feeling coming back to my room after visiting six different countries, twelve cities, taking five buses, four flights, and a train ride and looking back through my travel log and pictures and thinking that I did this all myself.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

My favorite part was easily the friends I made. In fact, I have friends from New York and Canada coming to visit me this semester and I plan on visiting friends in Australia once I graduate.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

Put yourself out there. A semester may not be for everyone, but I would recommend going to anyone. What I mean by putting yourself out there is go and find the hole in the wall restaurant that serves the true local cuisine or hitchhike (maybe not that one), or introduce yourself to your friends staying in your hostel. Being uncomfortable in life can sometimes be an incredibly powerful thing.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

As I mentioned earlier, forcing yourself to be uncomfortable is something I got very use to. Life isn’t always comfortable and especially going into education I will be teaching students from a wide variety of backgrounds. I feel that I grew in my communication skills and ability to connect with a wide variety of people as well as began to think a bit more rationally as opposed to emotionally (a flaw I’ve had all my life).

Would you do it again?

In a heartbeat