This post is part of our Study Abroad Stories series, which aims to share the thoughts and experiences of students who have already taken the leap of faith and gone to study in a foreign country. With each of these stories, we hope to inspire, inform, and encourage anyone who has yet to study abroad. Want to share your story? Send us an email at [email protected] or tag us on Instagram using the hashtag #studyabroadstories.
Byron Ramirez is a Pre-Med Student at New York University studying Psychology. Originally from Mexico, he moved to New York City when he was 5 years old. Byron has always had a great interest in traveling, photography, and coffee. Considered to be a coffee connoisseur, he scours the city for the best cup of joe and when he’s not drinking the best Spanish lattes in the city, you can catch him with a camera poised at hand, capturing the best views. Byron avidly posts his snapshots and photoshoots on Instagram and you can find more of his work on his website, The Resistant.
- Name: Byron Ramirez
- Country/Place of Origin: Born In Puebla, Mexico and moved to New York, NY USA when I was 5
- Where you studied abroad: London, UK | NYU London
- When you studied abroad: Spring 2017
- College/university that you studied abroad with: New York University (NYU)
- Describe your study abroad experience in 3 words: Enlightening, Adventurous, Eye-Opening
Why did you decide to study abroad? Why did you go where you went?
New York University has campuses all around the world from Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Florence, Sydney, Paris, and many more. I wanted to take advantage of this and decided to study abroad. As I am in the Pre-Health Program in NYU studying Psychology, I was given the option to study in Tel Aviv, Israel ; London, UK ; or Sydney, Australia. These were the only study away sites that offered the necessary laboratory classes that I needed to take to complete my degree.
The study abroad application was simple. All that was needed was my transcript and a personal essay. I applied, and 3 months later I got accepted. The main reason that I wanted to study abroad, as cliché as it may sound, was to see the world.
Where was your favorite travel destination while studying abroad?
Each place that I visited had its own memory and story, it is really hard to pick my favorite.
Briefly describe what a typical week looked like for you when studying abroad.
My classes and labs were usually from Monday to Thursday, I would try to plan a trip every other week. If I didn’t travel outside of London I would take walks to explore different parts of the city.
What is your fondest memory from studying abroad? What was your most embarrassing/craziest study abroad moment?
A friend and I, planned our spring break a couple weeks in advance. We were prepared and had all of our tickets in order. We spent a total of $600 per person including flights and hotels. We planned our 10-day trip to Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, and Ibiza.
We headed first to Barcelona where we arrived at our Hostel and checked in with our Host, a surfer-looking Australian who had an amazing sense of music. We spent our days in Barcelona exploring the city, visiting some cliché tourist sites, and walking down La Rambla. We even climbed a couple hours up a mountain to take a picture of the whole city. Words cannot explain how much fun we had. We headed off to Madrid by plane and arrived late that evening. To be honest, We Really Love Food!, We explored Madrid and its tourist sites and tried the local cuisine. We might have taken it too far.
We left Madrid and arrived in Lisbon, Portugal the next day. I started feeling unwell and began to get terrible stomach pains. After two trips to two different hospitals, a 1-hour wait for an X-Ray, and a language gap. We used our knowledge in Spanish and English along with Google Translate to communicate with the nurses. Thankfully the doctor spoke Spanish and explained to us that my stomach lining was inflamed (probably from all the Tapas we had in Madrid). After an IV treatment of medications and oxygen therapy I was better. Unfortunately, one day of our 10-day trip was wasted, but we didn’t let this stop us. We rented a car and drove around the whole city experiencing every bit of Lisboa. I didn’t let the stomach inflammation stop me, I still wanted to taste Portugal’s famous custard tarts (Pasteis de Nata) which were honestly the risk. Unfortunately, our luck ran its course, we misread the time on our ticket and arrived late to our flight. I guess as Americans we take advantage of the use of a 12 hour clock, but in Europe one has to learn how to use the 24 hour clock. This was our downfall, we misread the time and we ended up being an hour late to our flight. We had to rebook our flight. We slept nicely in the airport and excitedly awaited our departure.
We headed next to Ibiza, Spain. As fluent Spanish-speakers, we were excited to be back on our home turf. We found that renting a car was easier that using the public transport so we rented a small compact convertible. We managed to travel around the whole island. From white sanded beaches to beaches riddled with seashells, we had fun exploring the island. At one point, we diverged from our plans a decided to travel a dirt road up a sketchy mountain to find a perfect viewpoint (for Instagram of course!). We did this twice, the first time we were successful, the second time we ended up mistakenly trespassing into a stranger’s backyard. Our days in Ibiza were coming to an end. We arrived at the airport, happily listening to music waiting to check in and get our tickets. To our astonishment the airport siren began to wail. The airport was being evacuated because the roof was on fire. Waiting outside of the smoke-filled airport people were confused and panicking. We were worried about getting back to London because we had class the next morning and midterms the coming week. After hours of waiting we entered the pitch-black terminal and got our tickets back to London. This was one of the most interesting / scariest / bizarre / exciting experiences I have ever had.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying abroad? What was the most unexpected part of studying abroad?
When traveling abroad you will end up making plans with friends and encounter that some of them will back out. The biggest challenge was facing this and traveling alone. Don’t let another person’s cancelation ruin your experience. I studied abroad because I wanted to visit different countries and experience the culture. This might be a scary experience but traveling alone isn’t that bad, just remember to stay safe.
What did you miss most about home when studying abroad?
I missed my dog and family of course, but what I unexpectedly missed was a cup of good ole fashioned New York drip coffee. I spent a small portion of my time in London looking for good coffee. When I got back to New York City, I told my parents the first thing I wanted to do was drink a cup of drip coffee.
Any last words of advice for people planning to study abroad?
Just do it! You’ll have these memories forever and you won’t regret it.
Have you studied abroad in London? Or are you considering studying there? Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below.