Home England The Challenges of a Returning Student Abroad

The Challenges of a Returning Student Abroad

by Sabrina Nunez

Last Updated on June 4, 2015 by

The River Thames from Millenium Bridge


While deciding to spend an entire summer in a foreign country, taking classes and doing an internship may seem daunting, I would say it’s twice as unnerving to be a returning study abroad student. Unlike the majority of my peers in the AIFS London summer programs, I already studied abroad with AIFS in London back in the fall of 2013. It could be argued that I have an advantage as I already know the city and am familiar with how things work, but now that I’m here, I realize just how difficult it is to be a returning student.

st. paul's cathedral view from millennium bridge london england study abroad

St. Paul’s Cathedral from Millennium Bridge

Last time I was here, I met all of my friends the first night. This week I’ve met several people, but I don’t think it helps that only four other people are also doing the 12 week program. We will get new waves of people during the fourth and seventh weeks, which is strange because last time I was here the entire fall semester and interns roomed with regular students. There was more time to get to know people and a greater willingness to bond because we knew we would see a lot of each other over 15 weeks.

st. paul's cathedral london doubledecker red bus study abroad

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Most people I’ve met so far are quite keen to see and do everything from museums to sights to nightclubs. Admittedly I didn’t get to see a lot of London last time I was here and have found people interested in doing the things I’ve missed. I will also always marvel at/take an obscene amount of photos of Parliament and Tower Bridge. I am, however, less interested in palace tours, museums and the party scene is not only exhausting, but expensive.

kengsington palace kensington gardens summer study abroad london england uk

Kensington Palace at Kensington Gardens

I’m also finding myself constantly referencing my previous time here by beginning sentences with “last time” and proceeding to spew what I feel is relevant knowledge to my peers. I’m sure I can and have been helpful, but I’m finding it difficult to restrain from recounting the past. I had so much fun then, I can’t help being excited by those memories!

big ben elizabeth tower parliament london uk england

Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and Parliament

Although I’m experiencing these things, I’ve also met some great people, and seen and done a lot of exciting things; and I can’t wait to see what it’s like to work in London. I have no doubt I’m going to have just as great of an experience as the first time I studied abroad.

I was expecting to come to London and know everything, and I’ve actually found I know very little and have so much to look forward to this summer. There are differences and that’s good, because who wants repetition? This week has been about taking my reality check and learning to work with it. Nothing can dampen my sunny outlook on any amount of time spent in London, not even the city’s infamous rainy days.

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