#StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Originating from Paradise, Newfoundland, Morgan Chafe is completing her Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op) with a concentration in the field of Marketing and Communications at Memorial University. She is a lover of fashion, politics, travel and food while living on a student budget. Some of her favourite things include: coffee, Netflix, lipstick and peonies. Follow her on twitter and instagram @MorganChafe.

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

The opportunity to study in England and travel across Europe with my best friend, crossing a number of destinations off our lists is what really motivated me to sign up for a semester abroad in Old Harlow, United Kingdom.

Memorial University offers semesters abroad in over 16 countries across the globe. However, they own a small campus in Old Harlow where groups of 20 can spend a semester continuing their studies. Although an exchange sounded like a fun opportunity, the fear of an unknown language and being on my own made this option less attractive. The Old Harlow campus on the other hand allowed for 19 of my peers and I to study abroad and travel together, in a country with a common language. 


What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?

The experience to study abroad was a once in a lifetime opportunity that nothing could replace. I built on existing friendships and gained new ones, and ended up with a family of 19. Although the feelings of being homesick would come and go, as well as the pressures of budgeting and studying, the overall experience was amazing. 

My favourite memory would have to be Easter Sunday. None of us could spend Easter with our families, so our large Harlow family had our own Easter. We played Secret Easter Bunny (similar to Secret Santa) and made Sunday Dinner large enough for ourselves, the staff and our professor. That’s a lot of turkey! That day, Old Harlow really felt like a home away from home with my second family. 

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

My planning and budgeting skills, along with packing skills definitely improved. Every weekend I would pack a 40L book bag and hop on a plane to a new destination. This required me to be careful of how I spent my money during trips, and the days in between. Finding the best deals on accommodations and flights were all part of planning and budgeting. How to see everything a city had to offer in three days was also an aspect of my planning skills. 

As difficult as budgeting and planning could be, packing almost always seemed harder. Weather can change in a minute, which requires you to layer up, or take things off. As a female, I like having my options and have a tendency to over pack. This ended up being a skill I mastered however, and now I feel like I can make anything fit in a 40L bag. 

I don’t feel like a new person, but I definitely experienced some changes. My perspective on friendship and family were altered. My family has always been important to me, but four months away from your parents and siblings is hard on the heart. 

Friendship is tricky. I knew this already, as a girl who has gone through the turmoil of junior high and puberty. But shoving best friends into a 10 x 10 ft room with a foot between your beds, for four months is really hard. You don’t want to step on toes, but you also have your own routine. You get to know each other for better or for worse, and pray your friendship will survive it. 

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?

My semester abroad is still a fresh memory. I am currently cluing up an unbelievable work term with the City of St. John’s. I had applied to the position while I was abroad and was unsure if they would interview a student from the Harlow Campus, given the drawbacks of phone interviews. Luckily, they understood and my supervisor thought it was rather amusing that I took a job interview while sitting on hostel bed in Barcelona on a weekend trip. My supervisor lives by the motto “I work to wander;” I truly believe my semester abroad really helped us connect in the interview and lead me to where I am right now. 


What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?

My greatest piece of advice to a student wishing to go abroad is to make sure you are responsible enough for the challenge. You have to be able to save to prepare for a semester without income, and to budget and plan your spending while abroad. You have to be sure of yourself in unforeseen situations such as getting lost, cancelled flights, losing an id, or losing your travel buddy. Keeping your wits about you in an unknown place is really important. 

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

During my semester abroad, I visited 14 cities in 10 countries and encountered 9 different languages. Culture shock was a weekly occurrence. But you learn to adapt by picking up common phrases, being understanding of miscommunication, and being open to new religions, diets, beliefs, and overall culture. I think my cultural identity was certainly influenced. As I went through tour after tour, I found there were certain places I missed, while others I wished to never visit again. Certain destinations it felt like a home away from home. I understood and appreciated the lifestyle and wished to be immersed in it. Unfortunately, our trips were only three days long and the opportunity wasn’t possible. 

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience; if you think it is a possibility, then make it happen. You will not regret it. The skills, lessons, and experiences will be with you forever - much like the memories. Many parts of the world are unknown to us, but they are all beautiful with something to offer to every soul. Take the opportunity, and make the most of it. 

Morgan Chafe: #StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown


#StudyAbroadBecause you will see the beauty of the unknown




All photos courtesy and copyright Morgan Chafe