Study Abroad Experiences

Jacob Edmonds: Exploring a Different Culture

Jacob Edmonds saw the chance to study abroad in the United Kingdom (UK) as an opportunity to travel, explore history, and augment the education he was receiving at West Virginia University.

"I picked the UK because I have always been fascinated with the amount of history that it has and how much of it has been preserved. Everything is so much older than in the United States," said Edmonds, a sophomore from Centreville, Va., dual majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Statler College. "I picked the University of Hertfordshire because it has a good reputation for aerospace engineering and many of the classes I'm taking here will transfer back to WVU."

Edmonds is the first student from the Statler College to take advantage of the Dr. Wils Cooley Study Abroad Scholarship. The scholarship was created in 2011 by Sarah (Lovell) Soliman, in honor of her former mentor Cooley, professor emeritus in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Soliman credits his encouragement with cementing her decision to study abroad as an undergraduate in Morocco. She went on to attend graduate school in England and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at King's College London.

"I have a younger brother and sister who are about to enter college," Edmonds said. "The Cooley Scholarship was extremely helpful in allowing me to accomplish my goal of studying abroad and I'm grateful to have received it."

In addition to taking a British military class, Edmonds is taking engineering classes in structural mechanics, thermodynamics/fluid mechanics, and integrated engineering systems. He is also adjusting to the difference in the university's teaching style. "Everything is much less directed here," he said. "For most classes, or modules, you are only graded on two or three assignments and a final test. You only attend one, one-hour lecture during the week, and have a one-hour tutorial where you work on a problem based on what you learned in lecture in a smaller group. Attendance isn't mandatory; you are expected to do a lot of the learning outside of the classroom."

In his spare time, he is exploring what he calls a "different culture" than what he has experienced back at home. "There isn't as much of a 'work, work, work' mentality here as there is in the United States," he said. "You still have to get your work and assignments done, of course, but you are also encouraged to travel around. One of the great things about the university is its location; it's only a 20 minute train ride into London."