My name is Tyler Wailes and on the evening of Jan. 11, 2019, I boarded Icelandair’s flight FI688 from Orlando International Airport to Keflavik International Airport, marking the beginning of my journey of a lifetime. After eight hours soaring through sky, watching what felt like a countless amount of films and viewing, from my window seat, only the parts of the east coast illuminated by street lights, I touched down in, to my surprise, a not too chilly Iceland. Here, too excited to let my exhaustion hinder my ever-present curiosity, I spent my two hour layover roaming the grounds of a very modern airport, the building I can now officially call my first destination outside of the U.S. It wasn’t long before flight FI450 was called to board, and at 7:40 a.m., I was officially headed to Heathrow International Airport in London, England, only thirty minutes outside of small town called Hatfield, where for the next five months I will be studying at the University of Hertfordshire.
Although I only physically began my adventures abroad seven days ago, I have been planning and working toward this trip for about a year now. At first, the idea of taking my education 4,400 miles away from home was simply a dream. One I certainly enjoyed talking about, but never really intended on pursuing. It was all fun and games when I, on a whim, decided to get my passport. Then, everything changed. All of a sudden I had the ability to drop everything and fly to Paris, if I wanted to, to stand in front of the Eiffel Tower and drink a nice glass of wine, or take a trip to Santorini to experience what looks to be some of the world’s most beautiful architecture. The world was at my fingertips. I could go anywhere I wanted to. Would I though? That was the real question.
It was in January of 2018 that my crazy little dream started to become a reality. For some time, a friend of mine had been encouraging me to look at the study abroad opportunities offered by both the International Center and Coggin College of Business. I did as I was advised and found myself absolutely amazed by the opportunities that existed throughout both programs. It was in that moment that I realized that the University of North Florida has affiliations with schools all over the planet, from Thailand to New Zealand, Denmark to Australia, France to India, and many more. I decided then that I wanted to take advantage of this incredible gift my school has to offer and I immediately made an appointment to start planning my trip.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted my first trip outside of the U.S to be in an English speaking country. Through my research I found that the Coggin Study Abroad Program offered an exchange program in England with the University of Hertfordshire. After speaking with the very helpful and kind adviser at the Coggin International Office, I knew this was the place for me. I was given all the information I would need to go about applying for the school and for numerous scholarships that could aid me throughout my endeavor. I was pleased to find that the process was pretty painless thanks to some excellent guidance and support.
It is important to know that you do not have to be an international business major to study abroad with Coggin. The same goes for the International Center. I am a communications major with a focus in journalism and production and I am finding myself surrounded with great opportunities here. The chance to experience different cultures has already, and will most definitely continue to open my eyes to wider perspectives. With this being said, different programs may have different requirements, so it is important to do your research and reach out if you have any questions.
My journey has only just begun and I already feel as if I have changed for the better. So, if there is anyone out there is asking the question of whether or not they should study abroad, the answer is, yes.
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