Julianna studied in London last spring and wrote about the experience on her blog. She let us share her story here so read on and find out why Julianna thinks you don’t truly learn how to be independent until you study abroad.
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Last spring I spent the semester living and learning in the lovely London, England. I called the posh neighborhood of Kensington my home from January til May and I would not have traded that experience for anything else.
Why London? The history. The art. The theater. The location.
The history of London is spectacular, it dates back to Roman times. Around every bend there are things that can be learned and stories that can be told. Many buildings display plaques that state what famous person once lived within the walls.
The art. Oh the art! There is art everywhere. I have never been to so many museums in my entire life in such a short period of time. I went to the biggest museums (the fantastic British Museum) to the smallest white cube galleries. The city is a hub for both modern galleries and collections of historical art. The National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery take you on a walk through the history of art- heaven for art history lovers.
The location. No, it is not in mainland Europe, but between the chunnel and all the flights from London’s multiple airports, Europe is a door wide open to you.
This is why I chose London. But in the end, I think something inside was telling me that London was where I belonged. London taught me so much about myself. I learned to not be afraid to get lost, always ask for directions, and how to read the tube map. The bus map however I never quite understood. I learned to look the way I wasn’t used to looking when crossing the street. I learned that taxis don’t stop for pedestrians. I learned that you will make the best friends where you least expect them and some people who you think are friends, may not be. People you travel with you will either learn to love or hate.
I learned that in order to learn about yourself you have to go on an adventure by yourself. No one can help you and you have to figure out things on your own.
So- why study abroad? Become independent. What is that? You think you are already independent?
So did I. You are wrong.
Go to a foreign country alone and learn to find your way, have a budget, and make amazing memories and you will become an independent person who is one thousand times more aware of who you are than when you left U.S. soil. Find yourself while meandering through beautiful boulevards, gazing at ancient artwork and seeing the views that you’ve only ever seen on pinterest or Instagram– in real life. I remember the first day we were all in London taking a tour of Kensington, one of the girls in our group remarked “It’s like we’re walking through Instagram.” I believe that everyone should have that experience.
Oh, you’ve already seen Europe when you were younger? That’s great! But you were younger, you had a different world view.
Seeing the world as a young adult gives you a perspective you would never have had as a high school student. Instead of being dragged through museums, wanting to go back to the hotel and swim, as a college student you will admire the art and treasure every moment you have among the ancient objects.
So, go grow your wings kids. STUDY ABROAD. To those who are past college age, it is never to late to learn. Go exploring, go alone, there is always something new to learn about yourself.
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