Below are a few of the reasons why I’ve waited so long to post since I’ve been abroad.
- I got trapped in the bathroom of my flat and am now making a short, comedic film about the experience as a final class project.
- I’ve begun to use the word flat. And cheers. And I replace “excuse me” with “sorry” in an uncomfortably Canadian accent.
- I spend 30% of my day avoiding getting hit by a double decker bus.
- I have not yet found Kate. Or William. Or Harry. Royal or Styles.
- EasyJet and the other sketchy budget airlines I’ve been flying will charge you for checked luggage so no laptop on weekend trips. Or near the amount of shoes I wish could come along.
- I am interning at Edspace and each day is a new opportunity to nerd out and love education technology. And startups. And free breakfast Thursdays.
- Contrary to popular belief, the word “study” isn’t silent in the term “study abroad” therefore homework is a thing and so are midterms.
- It takes way too long to cross roads. Even Abbey Road, shockingly.
- I spent two weeks recovering from consuming my weight in tapas and sangria in Barcelona.
- I am still recovering from Copenhagen.
- I spent 47 hours in Paris, 5 of them at Paris Fashion Week. The rest were spent gnawing on a baguette under the Eiffel Tower like the true tourist I am.
- I lost too many euros at the casino in Monte-Carlo.
- I spend more time planning travel than I do sleeping. But not more time than I spend eating.
- I take too long in Tesco because decisions are hard and the wine aisle is fairly long.
Insert where you will a lot of sightseeing, probably too much karaoke (if there’s such a thing), tea, and perfectly spontaneous adventures and you have the last two months or so of my life in London.
As decisions about summer time pass by and plans for next fall begin to unfold, I did want to share just one thing, specifically to anyone who is uncertain or torn between the idea of living and studying somewhere else for however long.
It’s terrifying, especially when you do it alone as I have. Your heart will break and your life will change and you will become someone you didn’t really know you could. You will miss home. You will miss your people and your place in the lives of those people. But when you set out for yourself, I mean truly get on a plane and fly thousands of miles away with only the knowledge of a few first names and an address of your flat, you will understand independence. I don’t mean independence in the way you can function free of your parents or like, practice basic survival. I mean independence in the way that you answer to no one other than yourself. You come first. It feels so incredibly selfish to type that but it’s true. Being alone abroad is one of the most autonomous experiences we college students are privy too. Even at our home universities, unknowingly, we answer to our friends, roommates, colleagues, classmates and everyone in between. Without always realizing it, we become who we surround ourselves with.
It doesn’t always hold you back. It sometimes pushes you forward. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a sorority of women, group of friends and organization of creatives at school that push me forward. But for a semester, for a few short months, I haven’t defined myself by the organizations I am a part of or the people I spend my time with. I am simply, awkwardly, unapologetically, me.
And the beautiful thing is, you don’t end up alone for very long. You meet so many new people. And suddenly you’ll know with great certainty, that wherever life takes you after graduation, you’ll be just fine. And you will thrive.
So if you can, for a few weeks or months, go. Go explore what it means to be you in a different culture and a different context. Pet reindeer in Scotland or attend foreign conferences in a new industry. Do things you’d never do. Be the person you never knew existed. It’s cheesy and I feel like some of this is hanging on a poster somewhere in your school’s study abroad office but it’s the honest truth.
And as for my retellings of happenings abroad, like figuring out how to order the right coffee, my internship, the cute old couple we encountered near Stonehenge, tube ride thoughts, the places in the prints I’ve purchased on weekend travels, and the little pieces of history along the way, stay tuned. I have bigger ideas than a WordPress page.