When and what did you study in Leeds?
I studied Communications (among other things: Sociology, History of Art) from 2013-2014.
What made you choose Leeds as your study abroad destination?
I’ve always been in love with English culture and consider myself a true Anglophile—being able to live in England for a whole year was a dream come true. Leeds seemed like the perfect “college town” in size, location, and breadth of study.
What was your favourite module as a study abroad student?
My absolute favorite module was Race and Ethnicity with Dr. Yasmin Hussain and Angelica Pesarini. As a mixed race person, I hadn’t had the chance of learning about race in an academic setting. I learned so much about myself through that module.
What did you study here that you wouldn’t have been able to study at your home university?
I absolutely loved the Country House Studies module. We learned about the architecture and history surrounding English country houses and even had the opportunity to visit several of them! Learning about and visiting country houses first-hand was also a dream come true.
What was your favourite aspect of life on campus?
I lived in Devonshire Hall with three English flatmates. We all got on amazingly well and one of my favorite things to do with them was go for cream tea at Costello’s in Headingley.
What was your favourite place on campus?
My favorite study spot was the Brotherton Library. I loved looking down at the rotunda while I revised and did my work.
Did you join any clubs or societies in Leeds?
While I didn’t commit to any particular club or society, I loved the Give It a Go program LUU offered. It was a wonderful chance to get a taste for all the different clubs and societies—there were so many that suited my interests, I had a hard time attending all the GIAG sessions!
What were your favourite tourist attractions or places to visit in Leeds and Yorkshire?
I made about five day trips to York during my year abroad in Leeds. It’s a really easy journey to make in a day, and I made sure to try out a different tea house each time I went. Other favorite places include: Kirkstall Abbey, Kirkgate Indoor Market in the city centre, and the Original Oak pub in Headingley.
Was there anywhere in particular that made you feel at home?
To this day I am heartbroken from having to move out of Devonshire Hall, which quickly and rather permanently became home in my mind. From afternoons spent studying on the lawn in the courtyard to playing the piano in the practice room to taking mock-Harry Potter photos in our formal dining robes, Dev remains to be the best place I lived as a student.
Where was your favourite place to eat?
Pickards, Bakery 164, Pickles & Potter, Costello’s Bakery.
Did you take part in any university-run trips or excursions?
My flatmate and I went with Harry Potter Society to Leavesden Studios for a day. It is a must for any Harry Potter fan!
Did you visit other UK cities as a study abroad student?
During my year abroad, I also visited Sheffield, London, Edinburgh, York, Skipton, Whitby, Haworth, Chester, Conwy, Nottingham, Cambridge, Harrogate, and Scarborough.
Did you travel to Europe?
I travelled to the Netherlands, France, Italy, and lived in Budapest, Hungary with relatives for the Christmas holiday.
What was your most memorable travel experience?
The first trip I took on my year abroad in Leeds was a very spontaneous trip to Skipton with a friend from my home university. It was the first or second weekend after we’d arrived from the States and we basically got on the first train headed to the countryside. We spent the day hiking, perusing the city centre, and finished the day with fish and chips at a local pub. It was the perfect introduction to life in Yorkshire.
What are you doing now, and how do you think your study abroad experience prepared you for your career?
I currently work as a communications specialist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be able to do my job half as well if I hadn’t learned so much about myself during my year in Leeds. All the experiences I had there, the traveling I did, and the friendships I made taught me what I value, what goals I have, and what my strengths are. By knowing myself better, I am able to be more honest, open, and receptive to all different kinds of people. It’s a bit of a cliché, but studying abroad really is life-changing.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
When I left Leeds three years ago, I left behind a country that had felt more home to me than either of the places I grew up in (Thailand and the U.S.) and friends that had become family. In a few weeks’ time, I will finally be returning to my best friends and the first place that ever really felt like home. I can’t wait.
by Sirinda Pairin – Wisconsin-Madison University – USA