University of Manchester
Megan Venter is a graduate student from the University of Manchester and holds two degrees in American studies. She is conducting research on reproductive justice in the United States.
What made you apply to the Smith AMS program?
Unlike the other AMS students, my university does not have an affiliation with Smith College. However, one of my professors is a graduate of Smith, and so one day I was researching the college I came across the AMS program and applied. Also, I did part of my undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and I really wanted to come back to the States, so this seemed like a great way to do it.
What courses are you taking and what is your favorite course?
I am taking the required AMS course, another course at Amherst College about popular culture, and a Study of Women and Gender (SWG) class. Out of the three, my favorite is the SWG class. My classmates are wonderful and so is the professor. This class really makes me appreciate certain things about Britain that I did not appreciate before, such as paid maternity leave!
What do you like about Smith? What do you dislike about Smith?
I really like that fact that when you introduce yourself here, you specify your preferred gender pronoun. I love how inclusive it is. I feel that you can be yourself here to a larger extent than you can in the UK. I also really love the fact that everyone at Smith is so confident—especially in class. Everyone speaks up and says what is on their mind, which is something that doesn't always happen in the UK classroom. Smith is a breeding ground for very opinionated women, and it is truly amazing. The thing I struggle with most is re-accommodating myself to the dorm-room lifestyle. I've lived alone for the past six years, so this a big adjustment. It is getting better though. Sometimes being from another country can be somewhat challenging because you may be asked very stereotypical questions—about Harry Potter and the Royal family for instance. I cannot really speak to either of these topics, but I really like tea!
What was the most difficult part of your transition?
Since I have lived here before this trip, it wasn't really hard for me to adjust. But the time difference makes it really hard to talk to people.
What do you miss the most?
I miss the National Health Service, tea, and my partner most of all.
What advice would you give for students who are going to be studying abroad for the first time?
I would recommend keeping in contact with people at home, but not having too much contact. The problem is, when you are homesick, it is really tempting to just think of home all the time, and speak to people at home. But it is really important to live in the moment, to be brave, and to make friends. You need to enjoy yourself, embrace the opportunity that you are given, and make the most of it.
What do you see yourself doing in the future and how do you see you experience at Smith helping you?
My bachelor's degree is in American studies and I just completed my masters in American history, and since this program is an American studies diploma it's really a continuation of my masters work. When I was in college (in the UK you go to college after high school before university) I studied politics and we did a module on American politics, and that was it. I just really enjoyed it. In the future I really want to work for a nonprofit that deals with civil rights and women's rights. Ideally I would like to stay in the United States since my knowledge is very U.S.-specific.
By Varsha Subramaniam '17, Global STRIDE Fellow