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Aleah Tilson (Lumbee), from Lumberton, NC, is a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and is an English and Comparative Literature major with a double minor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy. She had the opportunity during the fall to attend the Honors Semester in London, where she had the chance to take classes at UNC’s Winston House located on the historic Bedford Square. It was her first time going abroad, and she took the chance to go after one of her favorite English professors recommended it.

During her time there, she had the option to complete a personalized internship at the National Literacy Trust, which emphasizes the importance of charity and educational policy work. As an intern for the NLT’s Local Areas division, she assisted in planning events for primary schools around the UK. Some things that she had a hand in planning included book drives, charity runs, and speaker events, to name a few. One of the most memorable events that she was involved in was a book drive that focused on them packaging around 20,000 Roald Dahl, a British novelist and short-story writer, books and sending them to schools across the country. This was extremely rewarding for her as she got to receive pictures of the kids with their books after getting them.

Going over her time in London, something that Aleah found, and was pleasantly surprised about, were the people in the UK and their laid-back and accepting nature. It definitely helped with the fact that this was her first time abroad, as it allowed her to more easily fall into place at her internship and meet a bunch of great new people.

When it came to sight-seeing and visiting all of the classic monuments, Aleah was a pro. She got to see all of the big London spots, such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and even the tower of London. Her favorite thing about walking around and exploring was the amount of coffee shops that were basically at every turn, and she said that going through all of the big food markets and seeing what they had was amazing. She even branched out of London, going north of England to visit the beautiful Peak District and even traveling around through Paris and Copenhagen.

In regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, Aleah luckily missed it, as she left the UK the second week of December while the virus was reported the very next week in China, so there were no interruptions within her internship or her study abroad experience. Going over her time spent abroad, Aleah said that the thought of living in the UK after school has definitely crossed her mind, but maybe after she completes her goal of attending law school after undergrad. The experiences that she had will be remembered forever, and she said that this was a “life-changing experience that let me know that I was capable of living and learning on my own. I’d never been abroad before, and it was awesome to be so supported by my community.”

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