It’s hard to believe that I only have a little over a week left of my study abroad experience. Everyone tells you to enjoy your time abroad because it flies by quicker than you would think. I don’t think I fully grasped just how fast my incredible semester would go. It still feels like just yesterday that I was settling in for my six hour flight from the U.S. to London. Now, it’s almost time to pack up again and head home. My past semester was one endless adventure whether it was gallivanting through Europe or wandering through London. It’s fitting that my final article is being written before my final week abroad. As a culmination of not only my semester abroad, but of the Study (Abroad) Guide, here is a reflection on these incredible past three and a half months, as well as a few tips for future study abroad goers based off of my experience.
Why I love London
With over 8.6 million people, London is one of the world’s largest cities. Never having lived in a city myself, I was a little bit nervous at the thought of living in such a busy and exciting place. After living here for over three months, I can say that London has quickly grown into one of my favorite places. Having grown up with constant access to the outdoors, the fact that London has more parks than any other city is one of its most appealing features. Getting lost in the flower gardens of Regent’s Park or exploring Hyde Park’s endless greenery has proved to be one of my favorite London pastimes. I love London because there is something for any mood — there are cute book shops for rainy days, free museums for your intellectual side, every store you can imagine, delicious foods and quirky markets. The list goes on and on. One of my favorite things about the city, and also one of the most frustrating things, is that it feels that you could be here forever and still not have seen everything that there is to see. I am leaving London feeling that I have only begun to scratch the surface of what this incredible place has to offer. In London, you can never be bored; life is always exciting and new.
Don’t try to do everything
One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone planning on studying abroad or travelling in general is to accept that you can’t do everything. No matter where you go, there will always be something you miss whether it’s a monument, a museum, a neighborhood or a restaurant. I also feel that it doesn’t make sense to try to see all of Europe in the short, four months that you study abroad. Don’t travel every weekend. Take time to get to know the place where you are studying. At some point, you have to surrender to the fact that you’re meant to be left with more to discover. Enjoy the time that you have and try not to fret over the things that you miss.
Don’t be afraid
In today’s world, it’s easy to let yourself be overcome by fear and to let it dictate your life. Bad news is everywhere to remind you of all of your worst nightmares and being in a foreign country can make these fears seem so much more real. Although it’s always important to be safe and to be smart, it’s equally important to not let fear take control over your life. Amidst all of the bad in the world, there is still so much more good. Choose to see the good and choose to take advantage of every opportunity that you have without being paralyzed by fear. Be smart, but trust that you are safe. In the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Studying abroad has been one of the best experiences of my entire life and has allowed me to see so much of the world and to meet so many new people. For anyone who is even slightly considering studying abroad: do it. Being in a new place allows you to not only learn about a new culture and experience new things, but it also allows you to gain a better understanding of yourself. Take a leap of faith — the only thing you’ll regret is not going.