For those who have read my previous blog posts, you will know that I’ve been studying abroad in London for the past six weeks. However, the time has come for me to leave this program and go back to the U.S. and face reality. As I sit in the airport waiting to board my flight back home, I truly cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. It’s hard to imagine that only a month or so ago, I was brand new to the city and had little expectation of what it’d be like to live abroad as both a student and as an intern. Looking back on these incredibly hectic six weeks, I not only studied, explored, and traveled all over Europe but also grew as a professional, student, and, most importantly, a person.
Although my program was short, I made the most out of the time I was there. Besides attending my class, which was a Shakespeare-based literature class, I also worked part-time as a Data Analyst Intern at an accounting firm known as Kingston Smith, LLP. Typically, I would spend Monday through Thursday mornings interning at my company, and on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, I would be in class or at the theatre as a part of my class required me to attend Shakespeare performances after lecture. While both activities took up a majority of my time during the weekdays, I still got Fridays off, which left me with more time to explore the many areas of London and other parts of the UK and Europe on weekends with my friends. For two out of the six weekends I was in London, I traveled to Paris and Dublin. Both cities were amazing and very different from London, which was interesting to see after only living in London for such a short time. I would highly recommend anyone studying abroad to travel as much as his or her schedule allows him or her because it’s always worth it to see another country and experience its people and culture. Additionally, the weekends that were not spent traveling, I spent exploring the many local hotspots of London. Probably the most interesting places I got to see were Camden Market, one of the best places in London to shop at boutiques and eat street food, Buckingham Palace, a beautiful, historical marvel, and Shoreditch, which had some of the coolest street art I’ve ever seen. Overall, my time in London was busy yet well-spent, and I feel as though I’ve accomplished seeing and doing everything I could possibly hope for during my time abroad.
Through the experience of living and working abroad, I feel as though I’ve grown as a professional and as a student. Working at Kingston Smith gave me the opportunity to explore outside my comfort zone as I was tasked to intern in a field I’ve had little experience in. While initially frustrated with having to learn how to complete my projects in Python, a computer programming language in which my internship work was based in, I quickly learned how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and use my independent time efficiently. Using the help of my supervisor and online resources, I was able to gain a strong conceptual understanding of Python, and I eventually tackled the projects assigned to me with ease and creativity. By the end of my internship, I felt as though I had become a more independent and productive professional who can utilize her resources and deliver creative and thorough results, which is a skill that will only help to impress my future professors at PittBusiness and potential employers. Also, because of my literature class, I was not only able to fulfill a general education requirement, but also I was able to gain more appreciation for theatre and the work that goes into performing Shakespeare on stage. I may not be the biggest Shakespeare fan in the world, but I definitely think that because of this class, I am able to read, analyze, and write about Shakespearean literature more easily than before.
Lastly, the largest growth I’ve seen in myself is my growth as an individual. Coming into this program, I didn’t expect to be impacted by living abroad as greatly as I was. I’ve always believed study abroad programs to be beneficial for gaining a cultural awareness and competency, but I never expected this awareness to be so impactful in terms of my understanding of the world. After living in another part of the world for six weeks, I feel as though I now understand what it’s like to be unfamiliar with my surroundings. Although I did know some people in my program prior to coming to London, I was pushed out of my comfort zone to make new connections both with people in my program and with the local community. I had to learn to navigate through the diverse range of cultures that were present both at school and at work, and although there were times where I definitely had culture shock, I reminded myself that the ability to embrace a new culture and learn to live like a local was something that not everyone has the fortunate opportunity of doing, which made me so grateful to be in the program I was in with the people I now can call some of my closest friends. Because of this experience, my increased respect, cultural awareness, and gratefulness for every opportunity I receive were perhaps the biggest things that I took from my time in London, and they definitely will be skills that I can utilize in all my business classes, regardless of whether or not they have an international component.
Overall, I cannot emphasize enough how much I’ve learned about London and myself throughout my study abroad experience. While I do miss my family and friends back home, I feel as though London will always be a part of me. I’m truly appreciative of the time I spent studying abroad, and I cannot wait until I have another opportunity to travel back there again in the future.