Meet Tarah Milbank, a Religious Studies and Advertising major studying at Lancaster University!
Student Spotlight: Tarah Milbank, ‘17
US university: Michigan State University
Major: Religious Studies and Advertising
Study abroad program: Lancaster University, Lancaster, 2016-2017 academic year
Tarah Milbank, from Michigan State University’s Study Abroad Programme, initially travelled around Europe before starting a semester at Lancaster University. That was soon extended to a full academic year (8 months) and Tarah has since been accepted to continue her studies at Lancaster University on her Master’s in Advanced Marketing Management.
Why did you choose the UK?
I chose to study in the UK because I have always had a special interest in learning more about the country and its people. Lancaster was an easy choice because of its location, its feel, and its unique major. It is not a metropolitan city, but it is in easy reach of Manchester, Liverpool, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the beautiful Lake District. Lancaster has over 3,000 International students and is considered to be one of the top universities in the world. It offers exceptional social and academic support to all students through its 9 colleges, so I felt at home and appreciated the welcome that everyone gets because of the collegiate system.
Why did you choose this program?
I loved the flexibility of the Religious Studies program and it worked so well with my Advertising & Marketing major back home. It is essentially three majors in one with politics, religion and philosophy all being covered, which was very interesting, as they all helped further my understanding of people.
What was your favourite class?
My favorite class while studying abroad was a class called “Indian Politics, Religion, and Society”, taught by an Professor who had first-hand experience in this topic, which was really fascinating. Through this class I learned so much about Hinduism, as well as the society and politics of India. I also really enjoyed reading about Mahatma Gandhi who said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
What’s your best memory from your time abroad?
I have so many fond memories, and selecting a single favorite one is very challenging. The one that touched me the most was when they served a turkey dinner in honor of the American students at Lancaster. Even though Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in the UK, Lancaster University really went out of its way to welcome us, which made this gesture notably more significant to me.
What was the greatest challenge you encountered during your time abroad?
The greatest challenge for me during my time abroad at first, was trying to fit in the new environment, while going to classes and living with students from all over the world. Playing team sports such as netball and dodge ball, and getting involved in different societies like the Study Abroad Society and the Theater Society helped me make really good friends. I soon realised that accents and backgrounds may be different, but Lancaster students are alike in so many other ways.
Describe your housing situation:
I loved living on campus, and meeting people who I had never met before, but soon became good friends with. Each student is part of a college and each college has its own unique character, which reminds me a lot of the house system in the Harry Potter books and movies. Even though I was quite sceptical of living with people I had never met before, college living has been a huge part of why I’ve loved studying here. Lonsdale College has provided me with an excellent education, and has been a life changing experience for me. I have learned to respect and value people from different backgrounds & countries more than I ever have before. It was amazing representing Lonsdale College in intercollegiate sports competitions, and now I know why the motto of Lonsdale College at Lancaster is, “Simply the Best.”
What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about studying abroad in the UK?
If you are thinking about studying abroad at Lancaster University, JUST DO IT! It has been a wonderful experience for me and I know it can be for you too. If you like challenges, adventure and meeting new people, Lancaster University is a place where you can learn, grow, and become a more successful person.
Fact about the UK that you think people would be surprised to learn:
One fact that you might be surprised to learn, is that the English language may be spoken in the UK, but it is not the same English that you will find in other places, like the US. The Brits have so many different words and sayings, and sometimes trying to figure out what they mean has been both frustrating and fun at the same time. Word spellings have been another challenge. Favor is spelled “favour” and center is spelled “centre” in the UK. The funniest fact is that the first award I ever received here was that of a “Best Accent”. People found my accent charming here, while to me I wasn’t the one with the accent, everyone else was.
What do you think you gained from studying abroad?
I have gained and learned a great deal as a student at Lancaster University. I am very grateful for the new friendships and excellent education I have received. I played sports that I never knew existed and was a primary dancer in the musical production of ‘Legally Blonde.’ Attending school here has helped me grow and become a better person. Now, I am really looking forward to finishing my Master's in this country that I have grown to love. I know I will carry these memories and friendships with me throughout my life.