In the land of palaces and pubs, I have created a beautiful abroad experience with memories to last a lifetime. However, this feeling wasn’t easily achieved. The first weeks here in London were new, frightening and a little bit overwhelming. Now, I’m loving my home here, and the thought of leaving breaks my heart.
My time here has helped me create a survival guide to help those who are pondering or eventually going to pack up their life and study abroad. Here are my five tips and tricks to ease you into life abroad!
- Find a homey coffee shop
It might feel like you have just been dropped into a new and scary place, but there are ways to ease that feeling. Once you are all unpacked and settled, lace up your walking shoes and explore the area around you. Find a coffee shop that makes you feel at home.
Being a regular at a coffee shop or breakfast place gives you a sense of community. Here in London, there is a chain coffee shop called “Pret a Manger.” Although it’s a chain, I go to the same one every day! It’s gotten to the point where the manager greets me daily and has memorized my coffee order. Sometimes he even gives me a free coffee!
This will create a sense of routine which will settle your nerves and give you a space to be yourself; and who doesn’t love coffee?
- Travel Alone
I know this sounds scary, and trust me I never thought I would be able to hop on a flight alone. I was so fearful of planes and airports before I traveled alone but the only way to get over your fears is to face them head-on. I traveled to Ireland and Scotland by myself and let me tell you, those two trips helped my confidence grow.
I found this new sense of independence that I didn’t have before. You can gain independence in many different aspects of your life but traveling alone is the best way to have that main character moment. Now I feel like I can figure out any situation that is thrown at me because I know how to navigate the big bad airport. I am so grateful to my friends in Ireland for letting me stay with them and my cousins in Scotland for showing me around!
- Cry it out
You are going to feel overwhelmed, overstimulated and lost. However, those feelings are fleeting and are a small fraction of the experience abroad. Don’t hold it in! The second I opened myself up to my new friends during my first two weeks here, I felt at ease.
I cried in front of all my new roommates and friends and it was the moment that brought us together. My friends and I look back at those moments of fear and tears and laugh because we have created such a loving home together.
- Make a Study Abroad Instagram
People want to see what you are up to, especially your relatives. I used my second Instagram account where I posted weekly updates. I did this for others so I wouldn’t get requests for pictures and videos from everyone, but secretly it was all for me. Having some of your favorite pictures taken abroad in one place is an organized way to keep everyone updated.
I looked forward to posting weekly because I got to reflect on what I got up to—it was almost like my journal. Your abroad memories deserve to be cherished by yourself and others too. Maybe you will become a famous travel influencer!
- Find Balance
Although going out and about is so fun, it can be exhausting after some time. Finding a balance between fun and rest is essential. I’ve had times where I’ve pushed myself too far which made me feel exhausted. Have a day where you can just rest and recharge because being abroad takes a lot of energy out of you. Make sure you are taking care of yourself.
If you are going abroad in the upcoming months, just know you are going to kill it! I know everyone says it’s the best time of their life and once you get past those nerves you will agree with them. Be open to new people, places and opportunities. Good luck and well wishes, and as they say in London on the train, “Mind the gap.”