On Leaving Study Abroad

Sitting on my nine hour flight from London back to the states, my brain is riled with so, so, so many emotions. So much has changed since my first week at my study abroad program. I just completed my study abroad program at Kingston University in London, and I’m heading home to go back to college in the states in a few weeks. Study abroad changed my perspective, and opened my eyes to new experiences, food, and, of course, friends. These experiences are something that I wouldn’t give up or change for anything, which is why returning home is such a bittersweet moment for me.

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I’m incredibly thankful that I got to have this experience. I am so fortunate to have been able to experience a new culture for seven whole weeks. Seven weeks filled with touring some of the greatest museums, and galleries in the entire world. Seven weeks of exploring the history of the UK. Seven weeks of discovering an entirely new culture. It only took seven weeks for me to find my second home in London.

I got to watch the English soccer team come this close to winning the World Cup. I was swept away by the passionate fans shouting in the street after the English team scored a winning goal. I got to see the influence of the ancient Romans on present day society in Bath. I saw a one of a kind exhibit on Frida Kahlo at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I drank an incredible amount of tea at countless cafes. I met some incredible people through living at the dorms. I sat on too many trains terminating at Waterloo. I walked so many miles (approximately three hundred and twenty miles in total). I saw a live performance of a Shakespearean play at the Globe.

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I’m amazed that I got to do all of these incredible, once in a lifetime things. I can’t believe that I navigated my own way through a foreign country, and that I very rarely got lost or had a problem that I couldn’t solve by myself. I feel so proud of myself for taking care of myself for the entirety of the time I was abroad. Sure, I take care of myself at college but doing it in an unfamiliar country is a totally different ballgame. Shopping at a grocery store for the first time was an unfamiliar experience. So was doing laundry, and getting to class. But I did it! I made it through, and I feel like that’s something to be proud of. It is truly incredible how you learn what you’re capable of doing while studying in a foreign country.

Now, on my way back, realizing my time in study abroad is over I feel incredibly sad. I’m upset that I’m leaving a country that has truly been nothing but wonderful to me this past summer. Everyone that I met in London was open to sharing their stories with me, and giving me their favorite tips on things to do and see. I’m going to miss menial things: rushing down the stairs at a Tube station to catch a train, walking around the block from the dorms to a great Indian restaurant, and walking along the Thames to class. I’m also going to miss living in one of the largest cities in the world. I’ll always remember walking around Soho at night once all of the shows were over. The streets were filled with so many people, from all walks of life. The hazy night sky seemed alive with the glowing show signs. Everyone seemed throughly overjoyed to be alive and living in London at that exact moment, and I just know that I’m never going to be able to forget the way I felt right then. img_3006

But most of all, I’m going to miss the friends that I’ve made. Being the introverted person I am, I never anticipated making friends in the short time that we would be abroad together. However, making friends was easier than anticipated. Groups of us all wanted to do the same things (see the tourist sites and buy groceries at first). So it was easy to find someone to do something with––no matter what it was.

Somehow, we all just got along. We swapped stories from home, made instant inside jokes, and that was that. Instant friends. Some of us were so eerily similar to one another, while others we were so vastly different in numerous ways. I feel like we all truly poured our hearts into one another so quickly, which is why leaving them was so hard.

Have you studied abroad? What do you miss the most from your time abroad?

What to Expect During the First Week of Study Abroad

In my Ultimate Guide to Study Abroad I’ll cover all of the details of my study abroad program at Kingston University in London. Each post in the guide will include helpful tips and tricks that I learned during my study abroad journey, as well as more practical information about what to expect while abroad. Since I am studying abroad in the Greater London area the posts will be specific to England and the UK, but the tips and info will be interchangeable for those studying in different cities!Friends during first week of study abroad The first post in this series will cover what to expect during the first week of your course abroad! I just survived the first week of my program at Kingston and I’m here to share some of the experiences that I had this past week. From being totally exhausted to making new friends the first week will probably be one of the most hectic (but fun!) week of the summer (or term if you’re abroad for a semester).

  • You’re going to be so tired––Everything during the first week is so exciting! Going to the local pub, grocery store, and cafe are all firsts in your new city that seem so much more enticing than they do at home. Going to these unfamiliar places is part of the fun of studying abroad, but constantly being out is going to make you so tired! You’re also going to be meeting new friends, staying up late to get to know them, and walking everywhere all adding to your total exhaustion.
  • You will have forgotten to bring something important––Maybe you didn’t bring a blanket or toothpaste or some other necessity that you absolutely cannot live without. The cool part about forgetting something is that you have an excuse to visit a local store and try a new product that’s likely different from the ones that you use at home. Immersing yourself in local products is a great way to get to know the city a bit.

Love traveling like a local? Read my tips on how to explore a city like the locals do.

  • You will meet so many new people (and become quick friends with them)—There are a lot of people in your program who you’ll be living and attending classes with, and you’ll pretty much become instant friends with them. Nobody wants to go to the grocery store or to get coffee alone, particularly in a new city, so you’ll get lots of invitations to do these mundane activities with the people in your program. There’s something magical about being in a new environment with near strangers that will encourage you to over share and become friends really quickly.Making friends during first week of study abroad
  • You’re going to get lost––And that’s okay! You’ll probably feel wildly overwhelmed (and maybe upset!) the first time you get lost, but remember that getting lost is part of the fun! You’re exploring your new home away from home––even if it isn’t in the way that you had anticipated. Just take your adventure in stride!
  • You might want to have a bit of alone time—You should absolutely take time for yourself if you need it—especially if you’re an introvert like me. Taking time for yourself won’t mean that you’re missing out on something important, so take time to practice a little self care if you feel you need it. Traveling and being in an unfamiliar environment can be stressful for anyone so take all of the time necessary to get acclimated to your new city.
  • You’re actually going to have to go to class—It’s easy to forget that you’re abroad to actually study and not just travel. Balancing homework, classes, and traveling from the very beginning will be your best bet as to not getting behind in classes and having the term of your life.
  • Your dorm is going to be much different than home—My dorm, or flat as the English would say, is much smaller than my apartment in the States. I’m lucky enough to have my own small ensuite bathroom in my dorm, but it is still really different from home! The kitchens

Have you ever wanted to study abroad? If so, where would you go?