Major: B.S. Informatics, 2015
Destination: London, England
Hometown: Natick, MA
Some people are homebodies, folks who like the comfort of familiar surroundings. They rarely leave their hometown, happily living their lives in the shadow of their past. They’re perfectly content, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Rachel Dolgov isn’t one of those people.
Dolgov, a recent graduate of the Informatics program in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has always loved traveling and exploring the world, and she was eager to take part in IU’s Overseas Study program.
“I knew I wanted to go abroad since I could walk,” she jokes. “I love traveling. I’ve been very privileged and lucky to travel extensively. My family and I have been to Israel twice. We went to Italy twice. We’ve been to London, Paris, Canada, and the Caribbean in the past. I knew I wanted to study abroad because I wanted a new experience. I love living in different cities and exploring new parts of the world.”
She began looking into options for a trip during her junior year in 2014, and she first considered Wollongong, Australia, because informatics courses were available on that program. But what she really wanted to do was travel Europe, and there was the opportunity for her to complete a social media internship if she went to London.
So off to the UK she went.
“It was a little scary at first,” Dolgov says. “It was a bigger culture shock than I thought because I was actually living there, going to the supermarket, changing my Oyster card for the Tube every two weeks. I was very comfortable in the city because I grew up in Boston. After three weeks to a month, I was really comfortable there.”
She used her classroom time to take a break from her informatics work, settling instead on classes that dealt with Shakespeare, women’s history, and theatre, along with her social media internship. Field trips were a big part of her classes, which allowed her to learn about the history of the subjects she was studying in the locations where events actually happened.
“I love that way of learning,” Dolgov says. “We learned about Queen Victoria and the Suffragette Movement. We visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It was fascinating.”
Outside of her coursework, Dolgov took the opportunity to explore Europe, traveling to a variety of different countries, including the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. She also enjoyed touring sites in Great Britain and was thrilled to visit the real-life Hogwarts—the location where the Harry Potter series was filmed.
“You just have to get your foot out the door, take the initiative, and step out of your comfort zone,” Dolgov says. “I had never traveled to different countries alone before. It was a growing experience for me.”
The overseas education experience changed Dolgov, made her feel more independent. She’s more confident about how she will handle the adjustment she will face when she starts her new job in Chicago, and the trip helped her find herself.
“I’m less afraid to take initiative and advocate for myself,” Dolgov says. “London taught me how I can be myself. I can’t depend on my parents anymore.”
It impressed employers, too. When she applied for a consulting position last fall, Dolgov was asked if she would be comfortable traveling 50 percent of the week.
“I had no problem with that because I have no problem adapting,” Dolgov says. “I have no problem going to a new city far from home.
Dolgov cherishes her overseas education trip, and she encourages others to give it a try.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Dolgov says. “Go for it. If you’re a little bit hesitant about it, I totally understand, but go to the overseas office. They’re wonderful people. It will change your life and be the adventure of a lifetime. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”
To learn more about the Overseas Education program, visit our Overseas Education site.