Well its official, my study abroad is over. Although I am still “abroad” I can still tell that something significant to my life has ended. I am no longer down the hall from my friends, no longer above the little coffee shop, and no longer in (surprisingly) sunny London. This has been a wide ride and I am so sad to see it end but I know these experiences will continue to influence my life for a long time.
Overall, this has been the most incredible experience of my life. Coming to college I did not think this was a possibility for me, and finding out I could go to London for 4 months was an incredible surprise. This has been my goal for so long, and the experience did not disappoint. I was able to live in (arguably) the most global city in the world. I discovered many little areas that were very British, but also was able to see the influences of cultures from across the globe (even my own culture has a small mark).
Through this journey, I have become much more independent, and also found confidence in myself I never knew I had. Before leaving for this program, I was scared to travel and explore without guidelines. I had to rely on people I just met and also myself. Now, I am about to hop on a plane to Scotland by myself! I trust myself and my decisions, which is not something I was confidently able to do before living in London. Also, as every experience I’ve had abroad has done, I have contracted a travel bug. I’m scared to go home and get back to a normal routine in something familiar.
The most valuable thing I learned relating to academics is proper communication. Many things can get lost in translation. Sometimes we assume others have the same basis of information as us, but this isn’t the case (especially with people from other countries). For example, my one professor would talk to us as if we already knew British brands. Some of them we did, but others we did not because they did not go international. I also learned how to get information from professors if things are not specific. Being from a low-context culture, directions or tasks can seem wishy-washy. Asking questions to get clarity is a necessity. Also I learned about bad communication and how difficult it can be at times.
All in all, I learned how to gain a global perspective in situations. This is something I know I can take with me in whatever I do and wherever I go. It is easier to get tasks done when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Thinking “do they understand what I am asking” and “do they understand what is expected” are vital to any project. Questions like these do not come naturally when working around our own people, but they are necessary when working internationally. Different cultures expect different things from their employees. In knowing this we can better understand how to work with different people.
My experiences in London have been the best in my life so far. I cannot wait to see where life takes me, and I cannot wait to see how I will use my experiences in the future. Cheerio London! I will be seeing you again.