When I was home for Christmas break, I got several questions from friends & family about studying abroad - particularly living in London, England & traveling. I thought that answering these questions, publicly, might be helpful to some of you who are considering studying abroad and wondering what it's actually like.
There is no real theme to these questions they are just kind of random and ones that I got quite frequently.
1. Is the food any good?
-Not a lie, this is the most frequent question I got asked while home. I will tell you that it took a little bit of time to find stuff that I liked and where the good places were - but once I got in a rhythm I found places that I loved & kept going back to. If you are in London, try Wagamama, Nandos, Wako Taco and any pub food ever. It's so good. You won't starve if you study here, I promise you that. (On a random note, I had the BEST salad in Brussels, Belgium!)
2. Are the people nice?
-YES! I mean... I think it depends on what context we are talking about....if we are talking about in the train stations, underground & busses the answer is no. However, if we are talking about just generally in stores, school & restaurants - the answer is yes. I think that it actually just depends on the person because I've met some nice people all over the place. Yes, people are in a hurry an aren't really sociable sometimes but I think that's not the case every single day.
3. Was it hard making friends?
-Nope. I think with any study abroad program you are always going to find people from the country you are from and immediately connect with them. It's just the fact that you are from the same place and can relate on certain things. I've also gotten put into a group at school which I thinks help in meeting people as well. It's been great getting to know a wide variety of people. My flatmate is also my travel buddy, which is nice to have when you want to go new places!
4. Were you homesick?
-Yeah here and there I was definitely homesick. The first week is always the worst. I don't care if you are the bravest person ever...being away from your friends, family, significant other, etc...is the toughest thing; however, it builds you up as a person and independent. You went on this adventure by yourself and you did it for a reason - so keep going cause it gets better! By week three/four you will be in a routine and have a groove going that you won't even think about it that much.
5. How do you find time to travel + study?
-I think this is just a matter of balancing your life & serious time management skills. I always got my work done before I went on a trip and made sure I didn't plan trips when something major was about to happen. I came over here because I wanted to study abroad, yes, but I also wanted to travel the world and see new places. It's a priority for me. So, if you make it a priority it will become a part of your study abroad experience. I also believe it enriches it that much more. You learn more outside the classroom anyways - so get outside & travel! See the world!
6. What's the thing you miss from home?
-A lot of things. I mean sometimes I miss the food but more so I miss my family, friends & boyfriend. I miss my bed, driving on the right side of the road, peanut butter and cheap stuff - just to name a few. However, to spin this positively, you will find new things that can replace some of the material stuff and allow you to really enjoy your time abroad.
7. Have you seen the Queen? Or anyone royal?
-No. That's kind of hard to do sometimes because I'm pretty sure she doesn't just sit at Buckingham all day every day. So I haven't seen her yet. Maybe one day soon!
8. What's your favorite thing about London?
-My favorite thing is just being in the city itself. It's so inspiring and there is talent everywhere you look. People on the streets performing, the vibrance of the city and the history that is so rich. It's just such a great city to study abroad.
9. How is it learning over there vs. the USA?
-It's a lot different. They use a different referencing system, they don't have tests (which is amazing), they write a lot, a lot of papers and they don't hold your hand through a lot of stuff. It's nothing that you can't get through and just adapt - but at first it was definitely an adjustment.
10. How do you leave everything you know & just go?
-You just do it. You just go. Don't think about it too much and don't second guess yourself. You are strong enough for this and you are capable of doing much more than you give yourself credit for. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew the world was calling my name - so I did leave my loved ones and I was all alone at first and it was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. But it's exhilarating. So do yourself a favor - take a step into the unknown. It'll be OK !
Once you travel and once the travel bug bites - you will never be the same again. It changes you in a way that you never knew but also in a way that's good for you and amazing. So, if you have even the slightest inkling that you want to study abroad - do it! Feel free to email me if you have any questions/concerns. I'm more than willing to talk about the visa process, what it's like, schooling abroad, etc!