BROOKVILLE — Courtney Sprague graduated from Brookville High School in 2015, but she took a different path than most graduates from Brookville. She decided to go to the United Kingdom for university.
Sprague said that she had always wanted to study abroad, and found that it was more affordable to study in the UK. She explained that she could study at a prestigious university in England for the same price as a lower-ranked United States college. Once she knew she would be going to school in England, she had to pick a university. She decided on Exeter University saying, “How could I not want to study at the university that J. K. Rowling attended,” referencing the famed author of the Harry Potter series.
Enrolled in her third year at the University of Exeter in England, Sprague is is pursuing a dual major in international relations and foreign language. She specializes in both Russian and Arabic, as they are “political, hot-topic languages,” as Sprague describes them.
Her choice of major also made going to England a better choice because U.S. university programs only allow languages to be a sole major, where the UK has “flexible combined honor” degrees so Sprague can get bachelor degrees in both areas of interest. She said that it’s also difficult to find high level international relations in U.S. universities, without adding in the middle-eastern language.
Another difference that she likes about going to school in England is there are no general education requirements to meet. The classes she takes are connected to her major, so she doesn’t spend time and money on low level classes she doesn’t need. This difference also makes a degree possible in three years instead of four in the UK.
When asked about what it’s like to be so far from her family, Sprague says she thinks of it like someone from Brookville going to California for school. “I’ve always been an independent person, so it’s not been too difficult. I look forward to my visits home of course, but I imagine it would be similar to if I went to university in California.” She was able to come back to see her family for both Christmas holiday, and the summer this year.
The overall experience of attending college in the UK has been positive one for Sprague. She said the teaching quality and relationship between staff and students is excellent. The universities all have specialized departments for physical or mental health issues, so students are always supported. She said there are also hundreds of clubs and sports to join. Sprague herself is in the American Society, Model United Nation Society, and Harry Potter Society, and plans to join martial arts and soccer next year.
Aside from the university, Sprague said that the UK itself has good public transport, “even if I live in a more rural part of England.” She also added that “the people are polite, the architecture in a lot of places is beautiful, and the lifestyle is healthier. I walk so much more than I ever did in the U.S.”
Sprague would like to continue on to earn a master’s degree. She plans to apply to Exeter for it as well, but is also considering Oxford or Cambridge. Sprague enjoys foreign relations because it explains why world politics are so messy. She is hoping to go into a career with an international organization, global governance institution, or domestic government.
Despite being separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Sprague has no regrets about taking a path less traveled from Brookville, and following her path to college in England.