A group of alumni who went to London in 1985 came together virtually to discuss their experience and the bond they formed while abroad.
In Annenberg Hall in a box marked "SMC Study Away," Klein Global Opportunities Director Allie Miller found a "treasure trove" of photos, most notably, large black and white photos of Klein students in London.
With some of the photos marked solely with names, Allie set out to find the group of Klein alumni who studied in London and hear their story.
What she found was a tight-knit group of alumni who stayed in touch over the past 35 years, celebrating each other's weddings, attending President Obama's inauguration together and even returning to London for a reunion in 2006.
Klein GO sat down via Zoom with nine of the group's members to ask about their time in London and how they stayed in touch for the past 35 years.
Allie Miller first reached out to Stephanie Miller, whose name she found on the back of a photo from the SMC Study Away box. Stephanie Miller was extremely excited about getting the gang back together.
Currently based in New York City and Portland, Maine, Stephanie Miller, KLN '86, works as a digital marketing specialist, but she carries her experiences from London with her. "I feel like my London experience and going abroad is inextricable from who I am now," Stephanie Miller said. "I really got to know myself.".
Stephaine isn't the only one who was profoundly impacted by their trip to London. New York City-based journalist MaryElizabeth Williams, KLN '88, says her time in London continues to change her life today.
"It's the constant building of new memories and feeling like there's a part of my identity and my soul and my heart there," Williams said.
For many others, their semester in London felt magical as well. This was especially true for Dorothy Smith, KLN '88, an elementary school teacher and avid reader, who said being in London felt like she "popped out of a book."
"For me it opened up a world of possibilities," she said. "You were able to explore and make your own chapters in there which was really invaluable."
Members of the 1985 London Study Abroad program attended class Monday through Thursday and had internships on Thursdays and Fridays, but generally had long weekends to plan trips all over Europe together. Some of their favorite destinations included France, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Being able to travel on their own, find their own flats upon arrival and live independently in London helped these students grow their confidence as they navigated life across the Atlantic.
Lorraine Hoffman, KLN '87, remembered the time her roommate got sick and together they had to navigate the medical system in London, which she said gave her the confidence that she could handle herself and be able to live independently.
"At Temple my parents were within an hour drive of me even though I lived on campus, like I always felt that they were there to bail me out no matter what," Hoffman said. "But in London, it was a little far for them to come if I had a problem; I had to learn how to handle it."
Stephanie Miller boarded a plane alone for the first time in her life. Upon arriving in London, navigating a new city and doing things like exchanging money helped her realize she can survive on her own.
"I come from a big family; I was never alone [before this], and it was great," she said. "I really got to know myself."
The group loved how in London, they were able to "reinvent" themselves and learn what they were interested in personally and professionally through internships, classes and being on their own in a new city.
While students may not be able to go abroad at the moment because of safety restrictions from the pandemic, those at the event encouraged students to always take opportunities to travel or study abroad if they have them.
The 1985 London semester was the first time that Dave Cherry, FOX '96, was able to see the world outside of Philadelphia, where he grew up, he said. The experience of living in a city like London that was "so cinematic, so big" compared to his life in Philadelphia made Cherry recognize that there were possibilities for his future that he didn't know existed, he said.
"I used to wake up every morning and say, 'I can't believe I'm here, I can't believe I'm with this group of people, I feel like I'm learning so much everyday,'' Cherry said. His words were met with affirming nods and smiles from all the others.
Klein graduate Suzanne Holtz said studying in or traveling to England or another English speaking country can be less daunting for students who want to study abroad, but are worried about possible language barriers.
Studying abroad adds to students' experience and education, and said even if it doesn't benefit the student immediately, there is no such thing as a bad experience or education when it comes to someone's future, Tracey Batt, KLN '87, said.
"Everything you learn, everything you do will somehow come around to you someday in your life and you'll say, 'I am so glad I did X way back when, because if I didn't I wouldn't know how to deal with this situation,'" said Batt. "There will always come a time when it all comes around to you."
Batt said her favorite memory of being in London was dancing in a circle on their last night in the city singing, "I Don't Want to Go Home."
While the group traveled together to places like Italy, France, Scotland and Wales, Williams remembered some of her favorite moments of the London semester was spending time with the other members of the program in each other's flats and around the city.
"When I remember London, I remember sitting on couches with you guys," Williams said. "Just like, being with each other, or sitting in a laundromat together, and that to me was the joy of that time in London."
Though it's been 35 years since they studied in London together, the group is still as close as ever. "So, when are we getting together next?" was the most commonly asked question throughout the event.