Grace Sutton, a junior double majoring in English literature and history, is making her first time in the United States a semester to remember.
Sutton, who traveled from De Montfort University in Leicester, England, enrolled in FMU’s Study Abroad program in January.
“It was part of the exchange program,” Sutton said. “Francis Marion was one of the universities I could choose, and it was one of the better universities.”
Sutton is immersing herself in her classes. She said she has found that most are smaller and more informal, which makes learning simpler.
“You get to discuss what you’re learning about and you can really engage with the professors,” Sutton said. “The classes are so big in England. . .You have lectures and lecture theatres, so you don’t really get that interaction. It’s been really great to talk about what I’ve learned.”
Sutton is also involved in campus activities. These have helped her meet new people and learn about her new university.
“I’m part of the SGA (Student Government Association),” Sutton said. “It’s really good to get more of an insight on how the university works and get to know new students, because obviously you’re a bit more exposed to different parts of the student body.”
Sutton said she enjoys the SGA, even though she was uncertain about participating in the beginning.
“I just wanted to do something different,” she said. “I’m not on anything like that at my university so I was a bit nervous that they might not want me on there.”
In addition to possibly pursuing a career in one of her majors, Sutton also aspires to gain experience in an unrelated field.
“I’m possibly looking to do something or work within marketing,” Sutton said. “I recently completed a summer placement in a marketing company, which I really enjoyed.”
Sutton said she gained work experience from the placement, and it was refreshing to do something outside of her areas of study.
When she isn’t studying or working, Sutton stays busy with other activities and pastimes.
“I love being creative,” Sutton said. “Lately, I have really got into following fashion blogs and trying my own hand at photography. As the French students here know, I am always taking pictures.”
Sutton sees similarities between the United States and England, but more than anything, she sees the differences in the two countries.
“I think in small ways it’s different, in that the education system is different,” Sutton said.
She said the social aspects of the cultures also differ, and an American university offers unique opportunities to get involved.
“We also don’t have sororities or fraternities in England, so that’s one big difference,” she said. “I think the English culture is a bit closer to the American culture so I think I have a bit more of an understanding.”
Of the experience, Sutton said she would encourage interested students to take advantage of study abroad while they have time in their undergraduate career.
“It’s great to have a new experience and try something different,” Sutton said. “I’ve always wanted to try and live in America for a while. It opens your mind a bit.”
However, according to Sutton, there is another side to living in a foreign country.
“I miss my family and I also miss being able to get around as easily, as we have a really good public transportation system,” Sutton said. “Everything isn’t as spread out as it is in the States.”
Sutton said she also misses the big cities, and “of course. . .the tea.”
Sutton shared that being away from home is not always easy, but the experience has been worth it. She said she has learned more about herself, as well as other cultures.
“I haven’t just met American students,” she said. “I’ve met French students and German students and the exchange students from the sports teams, too.”
With the semester coming to a close, Sutton reflects on her bittersweet feelings about returning home.
“It goes quite quick although it’s a full experience,” Sutton said. “I’m looking forward to going back to England, but I’ll miss being here as well.”