By Lauren Grimaldi
There are few experiences in my life that I can say were truly life changing. But this past fall break is an exception to that. After months of anticipation, I traveled with my Urban Human Rights class to London to research populism and the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union. I expected this trip to be wonderful and that it was. Instead of a merely fun trip, I was able to realize more about myself and the world around me.
We departed from O’Hare Airport just after 6 p.m. for our red-eye flight to Heathrow. This joyous eight hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean, or as the President of the United States called it the “very big water,” was quite a feat for me as I hadn’t been on a plane in nearly ten years. But soon enough, the plane landed and thrust my classmates and I into an unknown foreign city.
I don’t know what I really expected to feel when I first walked on a street in London. But it felt like nothing I’d ever experienced before. My nerves about the trip were erased in an instant as I viewed the beautiful architecture of the city. While the views and scenery were nice, the true life changing experience came from our research excursions and time spent learning more about London. This is what made the trip a once in a lifetime experience.
As a political science student graduating in May, there was nothing more valuable than getting the chance to conduct my own research on a topic that matters. Our trip was sponsored through Roosevelt’s Joseph Loundy Human Rights Foundation an instrumental organization to this university that has provided many students with the chance to go abroad. We focused on Brexit and how the vote to leave the EU will impact lives. In doing this research, I became more sure of myself as a student and person. While I also truly enjoyed the more touristy aspects of the trip, the experience of meeting with leading researchers was invaluable to my learning experience as a student. As we visited Parliament, the Supreme Court and the University of Nottingham, I felt my understanding of the world change. While I’ve always had an interest in the world outside of the US, I’ve never been able to truly understand it until this moment. Because of this trip, I can now feel more confident in the field I would like to pursue after I graduate in the spring.
Our trip to London was my first time outside of the country and I’m forever grateful that I was able to spend the week with so many of my amazing classmates and two inspiring professors. Dr. Bethany Barratt and Dr. Jeannine Love were both invaluable to our trip. Without both of their help throughout the time there, the trip would not have been the same or nearly as fun and educational.
This amazing opportunity is one of the best things that Roosevelt can offer to its students. If you’re anything like me, the thought of taking a trip like this may terrify you. But I can now say that I don’t know where I’d be without this experience, and I am forever grateful for the chance to take this trip.