These past couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing the usual end-of-summer denial. It happens every year. This time however, I’m not just in denial of returning to exams, long essays, and even longer nights spent finishing those essays, no sir. This year I was in denial of going to a foreign country for the first time, living there, going to school there, and working there on top of that.
Hi, my name is Kurt Clements. I’m a Junior Marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of business Administration (with tentative plans to dual major in Business Information Systems.) I’m from a township in Pennsylvania called Springfield, which is about 10 miles west of Philadelphia.) When I’m not at my desk in my room, I can usually be found at the gym, reading around campus, or practicing with Pitt’s very own Shotokan Karate club.
A year ago, I never would have guessed I’d be studying abroad. It was always something that I thought I might do but it never felt like a very pressing matter. It was almost the same feeling you get when there’s been a movie that’s been out for a long time that everyone seems to have seen and loved but you just never seem to get around to watching. About 6 months ago though I realized that my time at Pitt was almost half over an if I wanted to study abroad I had better get the ball rolling. I decided on the GBI London program mostly because of how nicely it fit into my academic plans. There were a nice selection of courses that could fulfill my marketing major, and the option to complete an internship was just too good to resist. So here I am, about to spend the semester living in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
The farthest I’ve ever been from home was Florida when I was three years old, with Pittsburgh being the second farthest. Saying that I’m excited to see not only a new city, but whole a new country, would give you the wrong idea. I’m beyond excited. Listing each and everything I want to do or see would take all night, but apart from the usual attractions, I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do different in the UK. The little things like tipping or ordering food at restaurants. They might cause some annoyance or minor embarrassment, but I’m very interested in learning those difference and trying to adapt.
Along with the excitement, however, comes apprehension. The causes of the aforementioned denial. The first and largest of these causes is simply being in a strange place without the usual support systems of my friends and family. I know I’ll still be able to talk to them regularly, but there’s only so much they can do from across an entire ocean. Even though Pittsburgh is across the state from where I live, it’s only a bus ride away. Having to live in an apartment—sorry, flat— so far away from home is intimidating. Most of my other apprehensions, such as adding to my meager repertoire of recipes, learning the tube system and making new friends, all stem from the distance between myself and home. However I am determined to not let it get in the way of making the most of my time in London.
At least I don’t have to learn the language…