I came to my study abroad destination – London, United Kingdom – unsure of if I made the right decision. I was nervous because as a commuter I have never lived away from home, I was afraid of leaving my family (dogs included) and friends for four months, and I did not know if studying abroad the semester before I graduate was a good idea. But I quickly realized there was no reason to question my decision. I am in the right place.
I am only in my fifth week of study abroad and have already had a countless number of experiences. Some highlights of my time here include when I went on walking tours for The Beatles and Jack the Ripper, visited Stonehenge and Bath, spent time in Brixton, and went on a weekend trip to Paris. From walking on Abbey Road and standing in the presence of a 3,000-year-old World Wonder to awing over black Caribbean street art and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, my travel abroad experience has been nothing short of life-changing. Of course, there are times I miss home, but I have been so busy enjoying my time here that I cannot grasp the fact it has already been a month.
My study abroad experience is through the CAPA London Internship Program. So, aside from taking classes, I am also an intern. While only six percent of American students study abroad, only three percent intern. This number needs to grow. I am a travel writer for the Travolution sector of Travel Weekly, whose parent company is Jacob’s Media Group. I write articles about how technology revolutionizes travel. While interning abroad requires time management skills and leaves less free time to travel, it is an amazing way of getting to know London better. I am constantly surrounded by people who speak British English, so I get to learn about different spellings, phrases, sayings and words. Working among English citizens also teaches me more about London culture, politics and history, and they give me wonderful recommendations on what to do and where to go. There are so many hidden gems that I would never have known about if I had not worked here.
I believe there needs to be a bigger push for study abroad and international interning. We live in a global community, and cultural empathy and global fluency are now more important than ever. Through attending school or working in a foreign country, people are better able to understand how other parts of the world function. When we stay stationary in where we were raised, we form a bubble that keeps us from understanding the people who share the world with us; we grow a subconscious ego that prevents us from growing as a global community. This ties into what I hope to get out of my study abroad experience. When I go home, I want a better understanding of different cultures and ways of life. The American way is not the only way, and it certainly is not always the best way. I want to learn from the people surrounding me so that I can take that knowledge and apply it to my life in the States. When we travel, we realize that it is not only us sharing our ways with the world but the world sharing its ways with us.
If I had any advice to give to future study abroad students, it would be to take chances and keep busy. You will make the most of your time by forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone and, ironically, by tiring yourself out. Try new foods, go to places you would not usually visit in the States, visit somewhere every chance you have, and leave Netflix alone for a bit. There are so many things to do, so you might as well take advantage of it while you can. You may never end up having the same chance again.
I look forward to seeing more of London and Europe in the remainder of my time here. I have plans of visiting Kew Gardens, the Royal Observatory, Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London, the London Eye, the Tate Museum, the Harry Potter film set and more. I am also looking into visiting places throughout England such as Dover Castle and the White Cliffs and already have Oxford and Stratford planned. Regarding adventuring through Europe, I will be visiting the Canary Islands in Spain for spring break and I have weekends planned in Amsterdam (Netherlands), Lisbon (Portugal) and Scotland. You can follow my study abroad experience by reading my blog https://yoursmineourworld.wordpress.com/. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time in the United Kingdom brings.