I still remember the day I sat in on the Ohio State admissions tour hearing about all the students who studied abroad and thinking how amazing that experience must be. Never did I think I would be one to pack up and leave to live in a country I knew little about. Fast forward, almost three years later, and here I am half way through my two month long internship in London, England and am already sad thinking about having to leave.
The days leading up to departing my hometown, Buffalo, NY, were filled with mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited to be able to experience life in another country but I was also nervous that I might get homesick being away from everything I was familiar with for that long. Deep down I knew if I could adapt to a new state for college, I could do another country but still I had my doubts.
What if I got lost? What if I missed out on everything that was going on at home? Would I miss my family? Would I miss America? These were all the questions going through my head leading up to this trip and let me say all of these questions where answered quickly once I arrived in London.
I remember boarding the plane and it was that moment where it hit me, I’m really doing this. Ten hours later I had arrived in London, the place that I would be calling “home” for the next two months. I remember this day so clearly. I remember walking an hour, going to four different grocery stores trying to find peanut butter, PEANUT BUTTER. There are no one- stop shops like Walmart or Target in a city like this and that was an adjustment in itself. To me, this was my first biggest “culture shock”. I remember getting on the Tube (underground railroad) that was going the wrong way and almost getting lost, walking on the right side of the sidewalk while everyone else was walking on the left, and trying to get food at 9pm but realizing every place closed before 8pm. To say this day was not filled with “tourist moments” would be an understatement. Looking back to those days it seems like just yesterday that I first got to London. I laugh to myself thinking about those first couple of days where I was a visitor in a place I was so unfamiliar with. But now I walk through the streets of London feeling like it’s my home away from home.
Those first days in London I learned so much, not only about the city but about myself. Those doubts and uncertainties went away the moment I stepped off that plane and the rush of excitement immediately came to me. I realized that this experience was a once in a life time experience and to just embrace each moment being here. For me, being in London this summer has been a pivotal moment in my life and I know I would not have had all these moments of realization had I not gone.
Traveling abroad you learn to appreciate where you came from but also learn to appreciate the differences that make up the world. There is so much to see in life and so many places to go that I think people sometimes get so comfortable in their life that they miss out on all these experiences.
For me, I don’t like going through life being “comfortable” I want to get out of my comfort zone because I know those are the moments you grow the most. I can one hundred percent confirm this statement. I learned how to be independent and how to adapt to a place that I was unfamiliar with. I learned to live in the moment and truly be happy with the life I currently live. There are so many moments where I just stop and think to myself “Wow I cannot believe I’m here right now”. Interning abroad for two months has made me grow more as a person than I have in two years of college. At the end of this trip I will have been to four new countries, six new cities, and have created endless memories.
If I could give any advice to people considering studying abroad, I would say this… keep an open mind from the moment you get there to the day you leave. You will enjoy your time there a lot more if you learn to let yourself adapt to the culture and accept the differences of that particular place. You WILL get lost but don’t let this scare you. We live in an era where technology can pretty much get you out of any situation and live around people who are willing to help. Getting lost and having to find your way around a city is all part of the learning process. The biggest piece of advice that I can give is: do as much as you can and try and meet as many people that you can.
For me, the people on this trip has made this experience one of the best parts. You will have people that are experiencing the same feelings you are at one point or another and people that came in with the same doubts as you did. Trust me, if you surround yourself with people those feelings of being homesick will immediately go away. Don’t let being afraid of missing out or people back home stop you from going abroad. I promise you WON’T miss out on anything. You will be experiencing so much more in a new country that you will be genuinely sad to have to leave. Being young is the perfect excuse to go abroad and I would encourage everyone to go if they can once in their life.