Since arriving in London, it has been a roller coaster in the matter of 2 weeks. From some of the best nights I’ve had to times where I question whether I am cut out to be this far away from home, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. Being in a different country, even one that still speaks your first language, is a journey that is unlike anything I could’ve ever imagined.
This is my first time travelling to Europe, so naturally I want to take in as much as I can in these 4 short months. Planning trips is expensive, and always be prepared to spend more than you expected because even if you think you find a cheap flight and/or hotel, there will always be costs thrown at you that you hadn’t anticipated. For example, I spent the weekend after my first week of classes in Paris. We found a relatively cheap flight for Paris and a hostel to stay in for a very cheap rate. One thing I know I hadn’t accounted for was travel to and from the airport, and when the airport is an hour from your hostel, it’s a decently steep rate. Additionally, travel within Paris (when I managed to lose my metro card three times in 2 days) and getting fined 35 euros put a little dent in my budget. But to be honest, it was the experience of a lifetime and you can’t let something as trivial as money bring you down. I mean, how many times am I going to get to stand on the top of the Arc de Triomphe and watch the sunset over the Eiffel Tower?
Although the process of doing so is extremely stressful and time consuming, planning trips around Europe and having those to look forward to makes the time here much more exciting. I recommend booking trips ASAP. Right now, I have trips to Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Iceland confirmed and booked. This may seem like a lot, but there is still so much more I want to be able to do. Although it may seem like a lot of money is flying out of your pocket at once, having that stress off your shoulders and having it all paid for so far in advance may actually help you budget your funds more efficiently.
Other than Paris, I haven’t done too many exciting activities since I’ve arrived in London. I’ve gone out on the weekends with my friends a few times and it certainly is a treat to be of the legal drinking age in this country. Having an internship is stressful, but I can already tell that it is going to be one of an extremely rewarding experience, so I highly recommend obtaining one if you are considering studying abroad in London. The Ithaca College London Centre (ICLC) will basically find the internship for you, and although the process of obtaining a visa is a pain, it is well worth the effort. If you do decide to get an internship, also seriously consider cramming work study into your schedule. You’ve got some of the nicest people here at the ICLC and I am not hyperbolizing when I say that I actually look forward to coming into work here and getting to work with these 4 amazing women.
Finding a flat also wasn’t as difficult as it may sound. We found ours very early into the process, and although it may take others longer to find their flat, you will not be without housing, that’s for sure. Just like housing back at IC, it can be stressful and scary, but it all works out in the end. Our flat has had its fair share of issues already, from our washing machine leaking water all over our kitchen to our drying rack breaking, but no place you pick is going to be perfect.
The message I’m trying to convey is that this is not an easy experience, but being a foreigner is not meant to be an easy experience. For the first time for me, and for many others as well I would wager, I am the outsider. I am the one who showed up to a country that is not my homeland and instead of making people adjust to my culture and behaviours, I am the one that needs to be adjusted. It’s hard. It’s scary not being able to have my closest friends or my family next to me when I need them. Every day is a challenge, but it is a challenge you have to be willing to meet. Live every day to its fullest, especially while you are here, because before you know it, you’ll be back home, wishing you had more time in London. If someone tells you this is easy, they’re lying. But trust me when I say that if you have even a slight urge to study abroad, then you need to do it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I plan to have this experience be among the stories I tell my children one day.