Meet Michael Costas, a Philosophy major studying at the University of Glasgow!
Student Spotlight: Michael Costas
US university: Christopher Newport University, ‘18
Study abroad program: University of Glasgow, Glasgow, spring 2016 semester
Why did you choose the UK?
I chose to study abroad in the UK for its prestigious and celebrated academic history. I also wanted to explore the serene and dramatic landscapes of the English countryside and Scottish highlands. Culturally and academically, the UK seemed to offer the ideal abroad experience.
Why did you choose this program?
I chose Glasgow as an unpretentious city that’s not so much defined by its past but by all that’s happening there right now. Known for having a strong philosophy department I wanted to be challenged academically in a new way. I was eager to attend a large, diverse university with an exceptional faculty and felt that Glasgow afforded me unique opportunities that could expand the horizon of potential in my life.
What was your favorite class?
I really enjoyed my course on Mysticism and Spirituality with Dr. Nelstrop. In addition to Dr. Nelstrop’s lectures on mysticism in Medieval Christianity, the course hosted various other lecturers from the religious studies department that represented a diverse array of religious and spiritual perspectives. The class discussions and readings excited my interest in the topic and engaged me mentally in a deeper way.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad?
My greatest moment abroad was rowing in the Glasgow-Edinburgh Boat Race. The regatta was held only a few weeks after I joined the Glasgow University Boat Club. The day before the race I was told that I would be stroking (first seat) one of the men’s eight boats. I remember it being a brutally cold late January day with snow flurries falling as we approached the starting line. The thrill of competing in this storied race was an unmatchable experience.
What was the greatest challenge you encountered during your time abroad?
The most difficult part of studying abroad was being detached from familiarity and learning to incorporate myself into a new temporary home. As difficult as this was, the invaluable rewards of such an experience can’t be gained any other way.
Describe your housing situation:
The housing unit I stayed at was located just off Argyll Street in the heart of Glasgow’s West End. The location was proximal to some of Glasgow’s best venues, restaurants, parks, and the university itself. I had a phenomenal experience living with four other guys from different international programs. The five of us all had our own rooms and shared a kitchen and bathroom. Through this living experience I was able to form new connections across the world.
What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about studying abroad in the UK?
I would urge students to take full advantage of the exciting academic, travel, and cultural opportunities that the UK affords. The UK is one of those rare places that has something to offer to students of all backgrounds. Studying abroad is an experience that can’t really be prepared for in any way. The best way to approach it is to welcome what comes and allow the experience to be what it is rather than imposing your expectations of what it should be.
Fact about the UK that you think people would be surprised to learn:
I think people are surprised to discover the scale of diversity in the UK. It’s truly a global melting pot.For example, I was surprised (and delighted) to find that Indian curries were the leading cuisine in Glasgow!
What do you think you gained from studying abroad?
Studying abroad instilled in me a circumspect way of thinking that is sensitive to new and differing perspectives. The exchange in values, traditions, and ideas forced me to respectfully consider different ways of being in the world. In addition, I gained the skill of attentiveness. Being in a place where everything is new can be an overwhelming sensual experience at first. Every detail stands out as unique and peculiar. In this exciting new place I found myself noticing so many details in life that I would have otherwise overlooked.