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Hillary; Student of the world
RUMFORD- Hillary Dolloff always wanted to travel after high school, especially after she visited Australia as part of a school trip, but never thought she would have the opportunity of a lifetime when she decided to take a semester and study abroad.
“I met two friends; Alec Jandorek and Jaime Mandeville, while I was enrolled at Bryant College in Rhode Island,” stated Hillary. “We all decided last year that we were going to try and get into Westminster in London for the second semester.”
The three students were pleased to get notification that they were all accepted and departed Boston on January 1.
“We were all so excited, we just couldn’t believe it,” stated Hillary.
They all went through orientation, met friends from all over the world, and started school, each began studies in electives as well as required work while they were enrolled from January through April. Hillary took four classes.
Their first month in London Hillary met a lot of people. They would all go out to walk what they dubbed “The Loop.” From the London Eye to big Ben and Parliament. “It’s the mini London tour.”
With no classes scheduled for Fridays, they planned their first trip away from the city to Dublin, Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.
Hillary laughed at the comparison of the cost between the United States and Europe. “It cost next to nothing to travel over there. We could find cheap flights for around $40 round trip, we would stay in hostels, and if it weren’t for having to eat, we would have saved a lot more money. That was the most expensive.”
She and her friends would check out the cheapest flights a couple weeks in advance. They would gather around the kitchen table, with three of four laptops powered up and would begin searching for their next destination.
The one trip they took with only a couple days notice was to Belgium, and enjoyed the spur of the moment travel.
When asked how she was able to afford to continue to travel, Hillary laughed, “Yes, I saved a lot of my money from working at Hannaford while I was home and I did work study at school, but that’s all I asked for for Christmas.”
In April, Hillary’s mom, Deb, step-dad, Chip and sister, Brooke came for a visit to get a taste of all that Hillary was experiencing. “They really enjoyed being there,” noted Hillary. “We had a good time and I got to play tour guide, which was really amazing, considering that it was still hard for me to believe that I was living in London.”
Hillary and her friends visited 20 different cities, including Amsterdam, Budapest, Wales, Prague, Dublin, Brussels, Morocco and Paris before May finals and the trip back to their respective homes.
Of those trips, the first seven were only weekend trips and later on they decided to make week-long trips. Hillary noted that there wasn’t much of a language barrier, as most everyone spoke some english. “Morocco was the hardest, they speak Arabic. They knew enough english to get by,” stated Hillary.
“Another neat thing about studying abroad,” noted Hillary. “Is that one of the classes we took was on a Thursday. I would sit through a one hour lecture and then they would take us off on a field trip of the museums for the day. Really cool.”
When asked how she adjusted to being so far from her family, Hillary stated, “At first I was homesick and had a little apprehension, but then as I started meeting other students and keeping occupied with traveling, I got over that.”
With the news of people being kidnapped while visiting foreign countries, I inquired how Hillary and her friends felt about traveling.
“The groups of students we were traveling with ranged from three to 13 people. It was easy to find people to travel with. We stuck together in our groups and checked out a lot of reviews of hostels we stayed at, where we were going to be sight-seeing and all that. Everyone did have something stolen. Electronics are big things to steal over there. I even lost a phone.”
Hillary still can’t believe that she was living in London just a few short months ago.
When asked what her most memorable trip was, Hillary stated it was to Morocco with six friends.
“We had a seven hour drive to the Sahara Desert where we were going to take a camel ride, camp out in the desert and have a campfire. So amazing.”
They also visited Budapest and eastern Europe where things were very different than the rest of the places she visited. It was cold and snowy, but they experienced outside baths.
“It was strange, but wonderful to be in the middle of a hot bath in a snowstorm,” laughed Hillary.
She was happy to be able to share her experiences on Facebook, as her family and friends back home were curious to know what she was up to.
“My parents were so excited for me. Everyone loved seeing my pictures and where I was traveling.”
On May 16 Hillary had to say goodbye to London and traveled back to the states.
“It’s good to be back. I was pretty burnt out by the time we finished our trip to Germany. I was ready to come home. Besides, I had to get back to work and build my savings back up again.”
Hillary returned to college the beginning of September to finish her studies in actuarial mathematics and is looking forward to graduating in the spring.
When asked what her plans are after graduation, she stated that a job abroad would be pretty cool.