Now that I have spent over a month acclimating to life in London, I’ve come to a seemingly obvious conclusion: everyone studies abroad for different reasons. Whether you went abroad or are planning to do so because you want to immerse yourself in a new culture, take classes that will not harm your GPA or be legal to drink a few months to a year early, everyone has their reasons. However, here are some of the reasons why I think studying abroad is an incredible opportunity.
- Traveling – Although you do not want to spend more time traveling than you spend in the actual place that you are studying, being abroad is a great opportunity to see places that you otherwise would not have easy access to. For me, my program CIEE has study tours designed to bring us to different countries free of charge, excluding most meals. Throughout my semester here, we are able to visit Cardiff, Dublin and Edinburgh, and it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of the opportunity. I have already visited Cardiff and it was such a beautiful city with an incredibly rich history. Additionally, it is generally easy to get places, especially if you are in Europe, where most times you can hop on a train or a bus and avoid outrageous airfare.
- Food – Most of us are aware that the English are not known for their food, but they certainly make up for it with their cafés. There is easily a Pret a Manger on every corner that I turn when I am walking from my accommodation to classes each day, so it is inevitable that I am going to stop in for a hot chocolate or a toastie — a toasted sandwich — if I am hungrier. What makes both even more enjoyable is if it is a particularly nice day because it is only a short walk from one Pret to Russell Square, which is directly outside of where my classes are held and they have benches where people quite often sit and eat lunch.
- Accessibility to transportation – It is incredibly easy to navigate in Europe, especially if you are in a city like London. Even luckier for me, my accommodation is right by King’s Cross Station – which was ideal this past weekend when I visited my cousin in Cambridge, an hour away – as well as the underground. Over the past month, I have become more familiar with the different lines – Circle is the best, do not let anyone tell you any different – and despite my initial apprehension, it could not be more straightforward for local travelers.
- Tourist attractions – People will tell you that you should not do the “touristy” trips while you are abroad, but chances are that these are the places that attracted you to the city that you want to live in for a semester in the first place. So far, I have visited typical spots like Big Ben, 221B Baker Street, Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus and various other locations around the city. These are easily some of the greatest and most picturesque places that I have seen so far and I would be remiss to avoid them because they are considered tourist hotspots. You never know what hidden gems you may find in each place as well, such as the delicious buffet-style restaurant that my friend and I discovered while wandering the side roads of the City of Westminster.