I chose to spend my quarter away for a number of reasons: 1) winter in Athens, Ohio is UNBEARABLE, 2) thanks to my European upbringing and family trips to the continent, I simply couldn’t be kept away, and 3) I needed to have that “once-in-a-lifetime” experience of traveling abroad. But choosing to complete a program abroad and filling out the massive amount of paperwork to make my study official was the easy part; it’s the I think about living in another country, the harder it seems.
I don’t want to assume that I will make the transition easily simply because I have traveled to London and various European cities before. In fact, it is best not to assume or expect anything from this trip because then I’m afraid I will be disappointed if it is not everything I had hoped for. I think the best thing I can do is go into this experience with an open mind. If I do, then how could I possibly feel let down? I don’t want to acquire the mindset that everything is going to be wonderful and exotic and exciting all of the time. I know there will be some downsides.
Such as, budgeting. I am aware how currently expensive the pound is and that the prices in England are inflated as it is. I know I will have to forgo some of the day-to-day luxuries I am used to (Starbucks?!) and will have to balance how I spend my money (hmm… to shop or to travel?) I have also never lived in an apartment nor had to do my own grocery shopping, having been blessed by Ohi University’s two-year on-campus housing policy.
Taking the bus and subway is also not something I am familiar with. And of course there is the prospect of homesickness—which I would never admit to feeling of course! All these are things I have weighed against the opportunity to study abroad, and the scale has tipped in favor of the latter.
There are so many things I have to look forward to in the next 10 weeks I predict I will hardly be able to label learning to mesh with a new culture a struggle. While everyone is trudging through the snow down Court Street to attend Intro to History in Bentley Hall, I will be taking the tube to the National Gallery to learn about the history of art from some of the world’s most renowned painters. Like I said previously, some of the adjustments to London’s culture won’t be so much of a struggle.
I am committed to having the best possible time I can, despite the apprehensions and anxiety that I may naturally be experiencing. With only 10 weeks to engage in the time of my life, there is no room for second thoughts or allowing myself to acknowledge the little things that may hold me back from fully immersing myself in my new environment. I cannot stress about things like money (what better way can I think of spending it?) or missing friends and family (they will always be there, but this opportunity will not.) Besides, they are probably spending more time thinking of how lucky I am to be on this trip then they are missing me.