Summer is almost over. Whether you are heading to college for the first time or getting ready to spend a semester abroad, being in a new setting with new people can be a real test! I truly think you’ll get to know yourself better by the situations you are dealt with. Studying abroad was an eye opener for me. I could talk for days about my experiences, but instead I will put together a list of things I learned along the way.
Look out for number 1.
Everyone was so fast at making friends and cliques were immediately formed. The sense of urgency to get to know everyone was very apparent. There was a group of eight girls that I was a part of that did most things together. This was great, but eventually got very overwhelming! As my time in Europe winded down, I really learned to do things for myself and not for anyone else.
Take a moment to stop and smell the roses.
With so much going on, it is hard to sit and reminisce on what is actually happening in your life. At times I would say “this isn’t real life” because for me, it truly wasn’t. My time abroad (and in college) flew by, so I made sure to reflect a lot and realized that I was very lucky to be going on such a wonderful adventure. I learned to also save everything and keep a journal.
- Don’t throw it out! While abroad, I kept a stash of every receipt, postcard, ticket, and playbook. Any handout you can imagine, I treasured. This memorabilia made for two wonderful scrapbooks and many amazing memories. Even though it took long hours to create the two scrapbooks, it was worth it.
- Write write write! I tried to keep a written journal and an online blog of my travels, but it eventually got to be too much. I kept the written journal going, and ditched the online blog. I am so happy that I have these memories, in my handwriting, to read through. It is time consuming, but completely worth it if you can do one or the other.
Very few of us knew each other before the trip abroad, which made us bond at the sense that we were all going to be going through the same journey together. Toward the end, everyone felt that living with 27 other people can get quite stuffy. I definitely learned to chose my battles and do things with only people that wouldn’t create stress during un-stressful situations!
Open your mind.
I think the biggest thing I learned throughout my travels was to be open-minded. To say it is one thing but to do it is another. By immersing myself in many different cultures and constantly surrounded by many different personalities, I had to be open and accepting of others and by the end of the trip, found myself to be more open-minded.
Take advantage of living in a city.
There are so many aspects to living in a city. In a one mile radius from where I stayed, everything was at the tips of my fingers. I loved hopping on the tube and visiting different areas of the city that I did not frequently see. To me, it was a new adventure, a new area to learn about. I was constantly stimulated by walking around and seeing new things every day. Even though I looked forward to visiting different cities almost every weekend, I tried to stay focused on learning more about the city I was living in. London had a lot to offer, and I definitely learned to take advantage of being in close proximity to a lot of resources and cultures.
London became my home over three short months, and I am so excited to be going back soon!
For more about studying abroad, check out What I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad.