Zach Johnson is an International Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad (IDEA) office. Zach is currently studying Political Science and pursing the Education Double Degree at Oregon State. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Zach participated in a year-long OSU exchange program at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England.
As a huge soccer fan, I had always wanted to see a live match in England, but if someone had told me two years ago that I would be watching a Premier League match in Manchester, England I would have laughed in their face. Studying abroad transformed what seemed like an unlikely dream into a reality. During the academic year of 2012-2013 I had the privilege of studying abroad in Lancaster, England at Lancaster University. I was lucky enough to be accepted into an OSU exchange program through which I was able to pay regular in-state OSU tuition, fees, etc. and study abroad in another country. As a duel major student (Political Science and Education) I am entering my fifth year now, and actually went abroad in my fourth, so don’t let your academic class standing stop you from going abroad! While abroad, I studied politics, specifically international relations courses that focused on the Middle East, the UK, and the EU. This was an amazing way to gain new and exciting perspectives on some of the biggest issues in politics. During my time I was able to travel to multiple countries, including Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and more!
One of the more surprising aspects of my journey abroad was the fact that I tried out for the Lancaster University Basketball team and made it as an international walk-on! As a dedicated sports fan, and someone who grew up playing competitive sports there has been a little something missing in my life since finishing my competitive sports career after high school. For this reason I did a bit of research about the team and contacted both the coach and president of the team prior to my arrival in Lancaster. We discussed if they held tryouts for international or exchange students, and luckily for me they kept five spots on the team for open tryouts. As Lancaster is a very popular international school, and many students participate in yearlong or two yearlong exchanges they leave a limited number of roster spots open for students like me. So, I attended the open tryout and was selected to fill one of the open positions. I eventually worked my way into the starting lineup which was an incredible honor for me. During the season we played in the Northern England 1A division—the second highest division in England. I was able to travel all around the UK playing basketball, meet a ton of incredible people and revitalize a passion of mine! This was just one of many aspects of a remarkable year I spent abroad. From the people, to the places, to the experiences, my year abroad provided me with not only the most fun year of my life, but one in which I grew immensely as a friend, student, and individual. I will end here, and leave you with what almost any person who has spent time abroad will tell you and that is to do it, you won’t regret it!