I cannot even begin to think about the amount of times that I have told my “study abroad story.” For countless weeks and months after I returned from my program I kept getting asked about my experience from friends
and family. Honestly, I even got some facebook messages from people while studying abroad that kept asking me if I just took the semester off to go and travel the world! It is totally possible to balance academics and have that much fun while studying abroad!
When I reflect back on my experience abroad, there are many elements to it that I could have never imagined would have such a huge impact on my life. I never thought that I would be able to travel to 10 different countries, while trying to explore my new home, London. Who would have thought that I would be riding a camel on the beautiful beaches of Morocco, and getting up close and personal with wild monkeys on my birthday!? I would have never imagined that I would get a call from my mom asking if I was okay, only to find out a terrorist attack in London had just happened only a few blocks away from where I was. I would have never guessed that I would be chasing the Northern Lights with my boyfriend, Joe, in Iceland, and that we would watch them dance above us in the night sky during almost optimal conditions. That’s the most amazing thing that I learned while studying abroad; that the opportunities that you have while abroad are unpredictable, unplannable, and once in a lifetime experiences.
Coming into college, I had always known that I wanted to study abroad but I don’t think I was fully prepared for how much my life would change while abroad. I felt like I was living a lavish life in London…except for the fact that I had a college student budget. I already miss the afternoon lunches that I would spend in Whole Foods in the heart of Kensington. Instead of spending my time studying in RBD, I had to opportunity to take my notes to Hyde Park and watch people feed swans and ducks while I sat on a park bench and enjoyed the natural beauties of London. Usually when I need a study break, I’ll grab a Starbucks but while in London, I instead found myself sipping afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. That is probably the coolest part about studying abroad, you get the chance to completely change the life you are living and let yourself out of your comfort zone!
Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done in my whole entire life! Although I had all of these great times, it was hard to be away from my family since we are all so close, but luckily they came to visit me and I could show them around my new home, and all the things I had already learned from the city; how to navigate the Tube, which tourist traps are actually worth it, and how to fall in love with a city! I learned so much about myself as a person and felt like I was constantly pushing myself to try new experiences!
AIFS in London, Spring 2017