I was nervous to leave my hometown and friends for the summer to study abroad in London. Despite flying by myself domestically many times, flying abroad alone felt like a tremendous feat. I can still feel the butterflies in my tummy and I remember triple checking my ticket before arriving early at my gate. As I was waited to board my flight, a wave of nerves and excitement swept through my body. Looking back on my experience, I can say it was well worth the nerves.
This trip was not my first time living away from home, so I was fortunate to have a smoother transition. I’m from Maryland but attend school in Georgia so being away from home has been my norm for the past three years. However, this was my first time living alone abroad which was a significant change. Living with a roommate and six flatmates took some getting used to as I am used to living in a two-bedroom apartment in Georgia. Regardless, I enjoyed meeting new people and sharing the space.
My second big transition was finding where to complete routine tasks. Simple things such as grocery shopping and laundry had to be thought about in new ways. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose were the main grocery stores in which I bought my food. I was also always walking because of the close proximity of everything as well as the lack of having a car. Additionally, stores charge for plastic bags so it was important to bring my own. The transition was relatively smooth considering the language was still English, but it did take some adjusting.
Independence is something I struggled with but still enjoyed before coming on this trip. On one hand, I was open to going to a new country and leaving my friends and family for a couple of months. On the other hand, when it came navigating public transportation by myself in a new city, I lacked confidence.
The biggest thing I had to adjust to was public transportation and walking everywhere. We didn’t have access to cars on our trip, but we didn’t need them. I started the program as a follower of others with a good sense direction, and now I can say that I have mastered the tube and can lead a group around the city. Although, I couldn’t have done it without the help of Citymapper (I highly recommend downloading this application). As my trip comes to an end, I can say that I have gained more independence and valuable life skills in navigation as well as city smarts.
Homesickness can be a real thing on trips to other countries you are not used to. You must adjust to a new way of living, and that’s hard for someone that doesn’t like change. For me, another difficult aspect of being abroad was adapting to being away from family and friends. Luckily, my program kept me busy with classes and activities that it helped minimize homesickness. Also, if I was feeling down, I found that calling and catching up with friends via FaceTime and WhatsApp helped significantly.
My advice for anyone worried about living in a different country away from home is that you are not alone. Not only are there so many new people to meet, there are also people to assist you with planning excursions and any weekend trips you may want to take. I have realized that so many people are afraid of the unknown but I find that it is important that you take the big step toward the life you want to live. If you are reading this blog post I can assume that deep down you want the trip of your life and to live in another country. Take this as a sign and sign-up at www.aifsabroad.com.