This semester I am lucky enough to be spending my time studying in London. Now that I’ve been here a little over a month, I thought it was time to share a couple of my first impressions about studying abroad, London, and the United Kingdom in general. Since I’ve always been a fan of the “good news first” approach let’s start with what I love here.
First and foremost, travelling duh! The school I’m studying at has a partnership with a local student travel agency called Somewhere New. Through this partnership, I was able to get a really neat package deal that included a trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour (two words: freaking amazing), tickets to the Lion King, a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath, and a weekend trip to Wales. Money well spent!
Outside of the tour company I’ve had the opportunity to explore the city and the local area. There is nothing better than getting lost and discovering something amazing or seeing something on a map and thinking “why not?” (for instance, the above photo from an unplanned trip to Kew Gardens). The public transportation in London makes it super easy and quick to get around the city. Even on busy days, the waits aren’t too bad and there is usually a train or bus set to arrive within 20 minutes.
Now on to the not so fun stuff. As a person who struggles with anxiety and depression taking the leap to study abroad was really scary and because of that I got so caught up in imagining hurdles that I didn’t consider some of the real ones – like boredom.
I know, I know, it sounds crazy to talk about boredom when I’m studying in one of the coolest places in the world. But, it’s true. When you are in your home country, you generally have a lot of activities to fill up your day – work, classes, volunteering, sports, etc., but that isn’t necessarily true abroad. Unless you have a specific visa that allows you to work chances are you won’t have work to occupy your time. My typical week here is pretty empty I have class for three hours a day, four days a week and other than grabbing dinner at the Ref there isn’t much to fill that time.
When I imagined studying abroad I did what most folks do, picture all of the places I want to see and stuff I want to try. Sitting around in my room scrolling through Pinterest and binging four seasons of Brooklyn 99, not quite what I imagined. Studying abroad is exciting but it also is like studying at home, there is a lot more downtime than you expect and while you could go out every day that gets tiring and expensive really quickly.
This is not to say I regret studying abroad, on the contrary, this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Studying abroad has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to try new things and to be more responsible. It’s also made me realize that no matter where you are in the world sometimes things aren’t going to be glamorous and adventure-filled and that’s not always a bad thing.