Being selected by the British Council USA to be a Student Ambassador is a great honor, as only 50 ambassadors were selected throughout the entire United States. The University of Tennessee has two of these 50 ambassadors, and if you ask either of them about their experience, you'll quickly see their faces light up as they recount one exciting experience and impression after another about the time they spent studying in the United Kingdom.
Students interested in studying abroad will have the opportunity to meet with these student ambassadors this afternoon in an information session that will take place today in the Black Cultural Center from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"We were lucky enough to have two students selected from the UT campus to be British Council Student Ambassadors for the year, which is unusual," Elizabeth Gregor, UT Programs Abroad office coordinator, said.
Kristen "Casey" Self, student ambassador and junior in sport management, spent six months at the University College Chester.
"It was so different because I was actually living over there, and there's always a difference when you visit there for a couple of weeks versus when you go live there," Self said.
Safia Dirie, student ambassador and junior in literature who spent a year studying at the University of Reading, said, "I really felt that (studying in the UK) was the pinnacle of my undergraduate college career. I wish everybody would do it, even for a summer. I don't think summer is enough. Even a year is not enough. There's so much to see, so much to do."
Like Self, Dirie said living in the UK is much different than visiting it. Dirie visited 10 different countries and even made a trip to Belgium to watch the Tour de France.
In addition to her other studies, Self took a "Turning Points in European History" class.
"They taught it from a European view," she said. "It was incredible - the level of teaching and education and the thought processes I went through. It was totally different from our system over here, and I loved it. It was great for me."
Dirie said one major difference is the amount of time students spend in class.
"You go there and you write papers and you go to class. You're so used to going to class three times a day, five days a week (in America)," said Dirie. "And you're there (in the UK), and you're going once a week and you're going to class because you're going (just) once a week. The professors are always impressed with American students, with our work ethic."
The toughest part of studying aboard is returning, the ambassadors said.