When I first signed up for a summer study abroad program, I thought that six weeks sounded like a pretty long time. Looking back on my trip to London, it seems like I blinked, and it was over! Living and working in a city as diverse and exciting as London is something that I will never forget. The people I met, the skills I gained, the memories I made, and the food I ate are all invaluable experiences. The biggest lesson that I learned is this: if you have the opportunity to do something, DO IT. Sometimes taking the leap, both figuratively and literally (when I went cliff-jumping Wales) can be terrifying. But you will never know what will happen if you don’t jump.
I was unsure if I would make friends, if I would like my class, or if I would like my job. By taking the leap of faith and making the decision to study abroad, I made life-long friends, cemented my decision to pursue my major, and gained real world work experience in a rapidly growing company. I learned more about myself and others in the past six weeks than I did during my entire first two years of college. That being said, I am very excited for August so that I can be back in Oakland with both old friends and new friends!
I thought I would leave you all with a “musts” when in London, or studying abroad.
- Be open and willing to make new friends!!! I was worried that going into a program without knowing anyone would be terrible. But if I had gone in with a group of friends, I wouldn’t have been as willing to make new ones! I found a great group of people who are also CBA students at Pitt, and I also made friends that go to other schools like Alabama, Kansas, and Dayton.
- Immerse yourself in the culture! London is an extremely diverse city, something that I got to experience firsthand by living in Shepherds Bush. It was absolutely fascinating to take the tube to work and hear a handful of different languages every single day. Allow yourself to absorb all the different cultures and appreciate the unique qualities that can be seen all throughout London, and Europe!
- Food. A few of my other blog posts gave more detailed representations of my favorite foodie spots, but finding hidden food spots is one of the best things you can do while abroad. Some of my gems include: Borough Market, Camden Market, Dishoom, and Franco Manca. There are so many good food places all over the city which also helps you explore the different neighborhoods.
- Travel! The proximity to other European countries is definitely something to take advantage of while studying abroad. My program was only six weeks, and I wanted to maximize my time in London, so I went on two weekend excursions. There are so many places to go in Europe and I wish I had more time to travel.
- Document your trip. I cannot stress this enough! Write down what you do, take pictures, take videos! I really like making movies, so I would take videos almost daily and then when I compiled enough footage, I would pick a song and put the videos together to make a mini-movie. Since being home, I’ve watched these movies a ton to remember exactly what I did. It’s also nice to have pictures and videos to share with friends and family back home.
All in all, my trip to London was an amazing experience and gave me an itch to keep traveling in the future. To anyone who is unsure of whether or not to study abroad, this is me telling you: please do yourself a favor, and take the jump!
Cheers (one last time),