Rachel Godfrey was awarded the QMUL International Correspondent Scholarship in collaboration with IFSA Study Abroad. Whilst at Queen Mary, Rachel blogged all about diversity and inclusion in study abroad. We sat down with her before she headed back to Wesleyan University, CT, to talk about her experience. Rachel tells us what it’s like to be a student in London, cultural differences, diversity and much more….
QM: So you’re going to miss everyone you’ve met at Queen Mary?
RG: I am but a lot of my friends, like my friend that I wrote about, she’s coming in 2019 to the States to work. So she has it planned out. And then I have my friend who is gonna visit and my friends that are in the States at the end of the school year. So we all plan on seeing each other. But I’m still like, [going to miss them because] I’m just so used to them now [laughs].
What advice would you like to instill in some of the students that you’ve met here that maybe don’t talk about diversity issues as much?
RG: I think acknowledging things that we’re very uncertain about. It’s a scary thing to do and it’s uncomfortable sometimes but I feel like nothing horrible can come from acknowledgement and thinking to yourself. Like to question why you think the things that you do all the time.
What sort of advice would you give to students back in the States who are holding back from Study Abroad because of their background?
RG: Hmm, wow I saw a tweet! Cos I’m a first generation college student and there was a tweet that was talking about moving from survival mode to moving into thriving mode! I think a lot of first-gen students get marginalised and are in survival mode. We’re thinking about the things we can do to just make it in the spaces that we’re in. Your first thought isn’t necessarily what do I actually want to do that’d be really enjoyable and fun all the time. And so moving into that mode where you’re actually like you do deserve to study abroad just as much as anyone else and that there are ways that you are able to study abroad. You realise that you just get to experience something that you never would have imagined and you get to influence other people into doing that.
Can you talk about just briefly about your plans once you go back to Wesleyan and the near future?
RG: yea. Um so I graduate in 2019. Wow. It’s very soon. Erm in terms of after school I have no clue. I know the things that I like and I’m trying to figure out what would be a combination of all of those things. I know that I want to write. I know that I want to write about diversity issues. I can’t work in an office I gotta say that’s my worst fear [laughs]. But I think being able to travel…even if it’s just like in the States to begin with it could just be documenting experiences for people or maybe having a podcast [ I would really like having a podcast].
What has been your favourite thing about Queen Mary?
RG: My British horror class.
What is your favourite part of East London? Or favourite thing to do in East London.
RG: I like food and Rama Thai-It’s like a round the corner from here.
Is that the one that you wrote about?
RG: [laughs] yes I did!
Do you have a favourite British food?
RG: Specifically British? No [laughs]. Oh I guess it’s not actual food though it’s more like snacks. I once had this drink and it was called Lilt, it’s so good. And I also like the Max paprika chips. I got it in the little village shop.
What’s the best thing about studying in London?
RG: How close you are to other schools I would say. ‘Cos you get to go to different school events like at other schools and it’s so fun.
Worst thing about studying in London?
RG: I think weather is the worst thing. Because every single time that I go to walk to ASDA it’s like really sunny as I’m on my way there and I come out of ASDA with all my bags and it’s like pouring rain. And then I’ll get back to my flat and then the rain stops. [laughs]
Do you have a favourite British shop or store?
RG: mmm. I like Costa.
Oh right and you wrote about your favourite hair shop and things…
RG: yea my favourite barber! Yea Raymond from Gents barber. Great person.
Sounds like you’ve had a great experience and have really embraced living in the East End! Thanks so much for your time and for your blogs, you’re an incredible ambassador for the programme!
Read Rachel’s blogs about diversity and inclusion, as well as her experience at Queen Mary here.
*RACHEL’S INTERVIEW HAS BEEN LIGHTLY EDITED TO ENSURE THE INTERVIEW FLOWS FOR THE READER. WORDS ARE ALL RACHEL’S OWN AND THE CONTEXT AND OVERALL ANSWERS HAVE NOT BEEN CHANGED. PAUSES AND COLLOQUIALISMS HAVE BEEN EDITED [ONLY IN SOME INSTANCES] OR REMOVED PER RACHEL’S APPROVAL FOR READING PURPOSES.