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British Council taps senior as ambassador

Binghamton University senior Erica Hickey volunteers her time to promote studying abroad in the United Kingdom. It’s not just a personal passion; she’s one of 70 young people nationwide named British Council U.S.A. student ambassadors. All of them recently studied in the U.K. and promise to advocate for opportunities in Britain on their home campuses.

Hickey, 21, of Poughkeepsie, said she first traveled to Europe as a high school freshman, after her aunt and uncle moved overseas. “I absolutely fell in love with London,” she said. “I knew right then and there that I wanted to spend at least one semester in England.”

Hickey, who’s double majoring in history and philosophy, politics and law in preparation for going to law school, said studying in Britain was affordable and a good choice for someone without a solid background in a foreign language. She spent the spring 2006 semester at the University of Nottingham and took a month to backpack across Europe.

Hickey said she made friends easily with the British students in her dorm. The biggest differences came in the classroom, where she felt professors gave students a lot more latitude but also had higher expectations.

“You need to be able to get in there and take control and have more self-motivation,” Hickey said. “I feel like a much more worldly person.”

Hickey, who’s also a student ambassador with the Undergraduate Admissions Office, works as a telefund assistant for the Binghamton University Research Foundation. Susan Lewis, assistant director of international programs, said Hickey has come to numerous information sessions for programs in the U.K. She considers Hickey an excellent guide to British culture and current events.

“It’s tremendously helpful to have a returning student come to information sessions,” Lewis said, “because they can relate to the students on their own level and make them see that study abroad is possible and accessible in a way that an administrator cannot.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08