Expectations and Reality of Studying Abroad

As my time abroad is coming to a close, I am beginning to reflect on the expectations I originally had for this experience before I came to London. Obviously, it is natural to speculate what it is going to be like to live in a different country for the better part of four months. While some of my speculations and expectations have been met, there have been many experiences that I did not predict to go the way they have this semester. First of all, from an academic standpoint, I was slightly surprised by the academic workload. As I knew I was only taking nine credits of classes that count towards my GPA (12 total credits including my internship) I expected to have a slightly easier time when it came to amount of work and time dedicated to academics. In reality, classes have been just about as much of a challenge as they are back at Pitt. This honestly has been a pleasant surprise because I feel as though I have been getting something out of this experience not only from a cultural standpoint, but also from an educational standpoint. Another thing that I did not expect from my classes abroad is the length of the classes themselves. While classes are only held once a week, each session is almost three and a half hours in length. I would recommend being prepared for long days in the classroom! There were also certain expectations that I came into my study abroad experience with about the professional aspect of the semester as an intern in London. To be honest, I was not expecting the challenges that would come with managing my time as an intern required to work 20 hours per week while abroad. Between travelling, studying, and working, it has sometimes been very difficult to accomplish everything that I have wanted to from week to week. While this is a challenge, I feel as though these difficulties have helped me grow and develop as a person and a professional. Although my expectations for my professional experience were slightly different than reality, I would not give up the time management skills that I have developed for the world. Finally, from a personal standpoint, this experience abroad has far exceeded my expectations. I have been able to visit six different countries (seven counting the United Kingdom) and have experienced new and unique cultures in every single one. While I expected to be able to travel a lot, I could have never predicted the amazing experiences and lessons that I will be able to bring with me for as long as I live.