While my time in London has been great, it’s definitely not without its challenges. My biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to working 20 hours a week, taking 5 classes, and exploring enough of the city. I’m someone that gets exhausted easily so it took me a really long time to get used to my schedule everyday. Most days I will wake up at 7am, leave for work at 8am, work until 1pm, then go straight to class until 5:20pm, getting home at around 5:45pm. I’ve worked while taking a full load of classes back home in Pittsburgh, but it didn’t keep me nearly as busy or out of the house for such long periods of time. For the first month of the program I would come home drained at the end of the day and want to just lay in bed and relax for the rest of the night. I learned the hard way that I needed to really push myself to explore London during the weekdays too, as i was realizing that there were so many places in the city that I hadn’t gone to yet. This experience has helped me to adapt to a normal lifestyle of working a full-time job after graduation. In college I have been so used to easy schedules in which my first class wasn’t until 2pm, and the rest of my day was mostly free of other commitments.
My advice to future students would be to really evaluate what they want to get out of their studying abroad experience before applying. The international internship is without a doubt a once in a lifetime unique experience, but if you already have a solid resume and/or a lot of experience from past internships then maybe you would rather not do the internship and use that time to travel and explore more. Conversely, maybe you would rather take less classes while abroad and make up the credits at your home university. There’s a lot of flexibility within the program, so ultimately it comes down to your own preparation and what you decide you want your experience to be. Everything will work out regardless of how you decide to construct your program, the most important part is to make the decision to study abroad in the first place!