Ben Sorkin '20
University of St. Andrews
Ask me about studying abroad as a low-income student!
Because I went abroad…
I fell in love with a place I knew next to nothing about before getting there. Scotland had never been a place on my bucket list, but I left my study abroad experience with a much richer understanding and appreciation of a place with a unique and immensely interesting history. I got to reflect on what I really love about Harvard through the comparison of being abroad, and what I want to change and need to work around in my time back and campus. Challenging the things that I thought were normal -- how I spend my time, what I do with my friends, how I approach my classes -- was one of the most meaningful results of my time abroad. Changing my pace and settling into the small, scenic, coastal town of St Andrews did wonders for my happiness, and now I feel as though I have a second home across the ocean, always waiting for me.
Ask me about….
- Living and attending university in a small town
- In-country travel
- Studying the country you’re living in without prior knowledge
- Being LGBTQ+ and studying abroad
- Studying abroad as a low-income student
- Leaving behind house life
- Making friends at a residential university in the middle of the year
- Credit cards, managing money abroad, paying your bills
- Maintaining friendships and relationships long-distance
Study Abroad Highlights…
- I only had to take two classes during my term abroad. No, that didn’t mean that I had less work than I usually do at Harvard, but it was a nice chance to dive deeply into two subjects as opposed to spreading myself more thinly across four.
- I learned a ton about Scottish history through my coursework and learning about the university that I studied at. Scotland has a long history and sometimes tenuous relationship with the rest of the UK, and getting to explore that in a class on Modern Scottish History, especially in the context of Brexit and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum felt timely and real in a way I hadn’t experienced since taking a political sociology class in Fall 2016 during the election.
- St Andrews emphasized collaborative group learning and helped me grow through creative projects thanks to a different style of learning. As a public university, St Andrews had a much more explicit mission of preparing its students for the working world, which meant plenty of presentations and group projects and teamwork.
- Living in the dorms at St Andrews was one of my favorite parts of life at the university. Being a part of a residential community was important to me as someone deeply involved in House life, and the amount of learning that happened in the dorms and dining halls easily matched my Harvard experience.
Other International Experience…
- Winter Break 2017 - Harvard Philippine Forum Service Trip Participant, funded by the Harvard Asia Center
- Summer 2017 - Center for African Studies Lebone Intern
- Summer 2018 - Summer in Japan teaching ESL