From IWU Magazine, Spring 2013 edition
Megan Mondi: The Oxford Itch
Mondi enjoys the solitude of Avenue Gardens in London's Regent's Park. In warmer months,
the former royal hunting ground "becomes flooded with employees, myself included,
looking to catch some rays during the lunch hour." (Photo by Blanka Biernat)
Megan Mondi ’06 would love to chat, but she has a leaving do for a workmate at half
five and must attend to a lot of bits and bobs.
Such is the vernacular for a study abroad alumna living her dream of working in London.
Fully translated: Mondi has a going-away party for a colleague at 5:30 p.m. and must
finish some odds and ends at work before she gets there.
After four years in the United Kingdom — first as a graduate student and now as a
marketing executive for an educational publisher — Mondi uses British expressions
without even thinking about it. She’s also trained her brain to use British spellings
“Sadly, I don’t have a marvelous English accent,” she says, “but my intonation is
certainly different.” For example, when she signs off the phone, Mondi’s “goodbye”
is a very British upbeat, sing-songy “bye-ee!” rather than the more direct American
Mondi’s trajectory toward a career in London was launched at IWU, where she majored
in history and English literature and completed honors research on King James I of
England and VI of Scotland. Her research advisor was History Professor Michael Young,
who also encouraged Mondi to enroll at the University of Oxford’s Worcester College
during her junior year. Founded in 1714, Worcester features buildings that date back
to medieval times and a 26-acre campus considered among the most beautiful of Oxford’s
colleges. Says Mondi: “I loved every minute of the experience.”
After graduating summa cum laude from Wesleyan, Mondi interned at Shakespeare Squared,
an educational development company based in Glenview, Ill. Impressed with her performance,
the company hired her full-time as its business development manager. “From my internship,
the company knew me and trusted me enough to give me responsibility from day one,”
Gradually she began to feel the itch to resume her education. Reflecting on how much
she enjoyed her college experience at Worcester, Mondi says, “I decided to apply to
Oxford so I could get a degree from one of the best institutions in the world and
live in the U.K. again.” She succeeded in both goals, earning a master’s in modern
European history from Oxford in 2010.
“I don’t think I would have moved to the U.K. if I hadn’t studied there previously,”
she adds. “Spending a semester abroad helped me become familiar enough with British
culture to be certain that I would enjoy living there for an extended period of time.”
In 2010, Mondi earned a master's degree in modern European history from Oxford.
Mondi also says by studying at Oxford she experienced the British educational system
firsthand and finds the contrast between the British and American systems fascinating.
For example, in the U.K., students sit for their General Certificates of Secondary
Education when they are 16. Those who want to continue their education attend what
are called sixth form departments, where students specialize in a few subjects in
preparation for their A (advanced)-level certificates.
“It is their A-level grades that determine which universities they will get into,”
says Mondi, noting, “If I had specialized in the areas that I enjoyed most at 16,
I would have studied chemistry or theatre at IWU, not the English and history I majored
Mastering intricacies of Britain’s educational system has been essential to Mondi’s
success at Hodder Education, one of the U.K.’s largest publishers of secondary education
materials. For her job as a marketing executive, Mondi says, “I plan, implement and
evaluate all marketing campaigns and day-to-day tactics for particular subject lists,
With her office just a short walk away from Regent’s Park in central London, Mondi
feels grateful she has been able to continue her exploration of the history and culture
of one of the world’s greatest cities. Though she misses her friends and family in
the U.S. (including cousin Amanda Paz ’07), she plans to live and work in the U.K.
“at least until I get dual citizenship.” Looking back at the path she’s traveled to
get to this point, she regards her first study-abroad experience while at IWU as the
crucial first step.
“Studying abroad increases self-awareness and strengthens a commitment to civic engagement.
If you have never traveled far from home to experience cultures different from your
own, then you don’t appreciate how unique your way of life is. And stepping away from
your normal routine opens your eyes to different ways of doing things and can make
you an advocate for positive change.
“People have called me ‘brave’ for moving 4,000 miles away from my family and friends,
but I never thought of it that way,” Mondi adds. “Plus, I now have friends from all
over the world. Some of these same friends are the ones who have reminded me, in the
end, just how similar we all are.”
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