Interview with Katy Griffith

When and where did you go on your GO Trip?
I went to Brighton, England, to the University of Sussex, in the Fall of the my junior year – so, that would have been back in 2014, yeah.

You visited a lot of cathedrals on your GO trip. Is there any one in particular that really sticks out in your memory?
The one in Canturbury, I think – that was the first one that I had seen which really seemed massive. It also felt really ancient, with a really neat architecture to it. It made me think: “wow, there are no places like this in the United States – in fact, this building has existed since before people even came to the US.” Like, all of our architecture goes back to the 1600’s, at the latest – which is one of the reasons why Europe in general is such an interesting place, history wise.

Are there any favorite memories that you have from your GO trip?
Oh, definitely seeing the Coliseum in Rome. You know, because it’s the Coliseum – it’s hard to explain, but it was just such an experience. And then there was the trip I took to Dublin; I wouldn’t say that it was one of my favorite memories, but it was certainly one of the most memorable. Oh, and there was also the trip to the Harry Potter studios, where you could walk around the Great Hall, and see all the old sets and what not. I think I may have almost cried when I walked through the Great Hall the first time.

What other places did you visit on your GO trip that weren’t mentioned in your Flagship piece?
Oh, wow – huh. Most of the places were mentioned in my piece at one point or another. There was Dublin, Italy, Rome… in most of the places I visited, the big places, the big tourist sights to see, were the cathedrals. There are just so many of those over in Europe, because of the history and what not. Again, it was really interesting to see and witness.

Are there any people who you met that stick out in your mind, even to this day?
No single person in particular, but I remember that a lot of the people over there were super nice and helpful – they were willing to help people who were confused and lost and didn’t know where they were. …which I sometimes was (laughs). There was this one time on the way back from Ireland, where every single thing that could have gone wrong, went wrong. The ferry got cancelled, we were almost stuck in Dublin, we got lost, we had to talk to some French people who didn’t understand English, the town we arrived in was seemingly deserted… basically, it was a series of unfortunate events that were strung together to create a very interesting and memorable ride back.

Did you experience much of a culture shock when you went on your GO trip? How did you overcome this? Did you ever feel homesick?
No, I never really felt homesick, cuz I don’t really get homesick in general. I also didn’t experience much of a culture shock. But I guess for me, the biggest culture shock was being in Rome, where there were a bunch of vendors in the streets who would try to sell you things. Now, that would be fine, but they would really try to sell you these things – they would chase after you, getting in your face, and yelling “Buy this! Buy this!” That was certainly a bit of a shock. But yeah, I never really experienced much culture shock, mostly because of the fact that the language was shared over in England – I think that was a big part of it.

Do you often find yourself thinking back to your GO trip? Would you say that it has changed you in a discernable and noticeable way?
I do find myself thinking about it a lot. It’s always interesting to think about, because when you are in America, you think about Europe, and you think that it is such a magical and foreign place – but when you get there, you learn that, yeah, these people are just people, and these places are just places. They are very cool people and places, but you know. Of course, when you live over there, it’s an entirely different feeling, because it’s not foreign to you. For example, there was this one girl I knew over there who lived about two hours away from Stonehenge, and she told me that she never visited it. And I was thinking stuff like, “Dude, come on, we should go over there right now! What are you waiting for?” But, again, I guess it’s all relative. For me, I just thought to myself that I really need to soak this all in, because I will never see or touch anything this old again in my life.

Would you recommend the location that you went on your GO trip to other people? What makes that location so special?
Well, if it were still offered, then yeah, I would definitely recommend it! (laughs) England, I think, is a good way to go abroad, and still feel comfortable, because of the lack of a language barrier and what not. Although, I wish that I took more advantage of going into the actual city of Brighton – it’s like the San Francisco of England, I’ve found. There is just so much to do – so many clubs and what not.

Do you ever find yourself pining to go back to that location?
If I ever had enough money to do so, then yes, but just for a couple of weeks, so that I could see all the places that I didn’t get to see; I don’t know, however, if I would want to live there. Maybe a summer home… again, if I could afford it (laughs).

For people who are still unsure about where they want to go on their GO trip, do you have any words of advice for choosing a location? How did you decide upon where you wanted to go?
I decided upon my choice in freshman year – the reason I was looking at GO programs so early was because I thought the program was so interesting, and I just wanted to get a head start. I chose Brighton because it had a lot to do, and it was close to London. Also, Google Street View and Google Maps was really helpful for checking out the city and seeing what there is to see beforehand. For other people, I would say that a helpful thing to do would be to know and understand what you personally want to get out of a foreign travel experience. If you know that, then you can best choose which location plays into that desire. It is ultimately up to you to decide what you want to derive from the experience, and how comfortable you want to be. For me, I’m glad that I chose England, because I feel as though if I chose a place in which I would have felt uncomfortable, then I would not have gone out and experienced as much as I did. So, yeah, it calls comes down to what the foreign travel experience means to you.


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