Just like that, I am about 1/3 into my study abroad program here in London! Getting settled into London has taken some time, but I have finally adjusted (mostly) to what my life abroad consists of. I am living in West Kensington with two other flatmates, Sam & Thomas, and I also have met many new people on this program. During the week, I journey about 30 minutes from my flat to my internship each morning on the Tube! My commute is very quick compared to some students; I do transfer trains, but I have gotten familiar with the quickest way to work. At my internship, I assist with various marketing campaigns as well as different events that we host. However, there is one thing that is missing in this entire study abroad program: time!
Managing my time effectively in a foreign city is incredibly difficult, and it is a challenge that I did not originally anticipate. When taking classes in Oakland, I’ve always had ample amount of time to complete my school work, participate in extra-curricular activities, and relax. However, the GBI: London program is very intense. Each weekday is a completely full schedule from approximately 8a to 5p. I work at my internship for on average 20 hours of the week, which accounts for about 50% of the time that I am spending here in London. When I’m not working, I am taking two classes that are fitted around the hours of my internship; these are International Marketing and an Internship Workshop. Of course, we also have plenty of writing assignments for our classes to be completed outside of normal working hours in addition to different field studies at night for some classes! It is a jam-packed schedule, but I have been able to adapt to the workload in my first few weeks here.
Outside of my academic and work obligations, I also try to allocate some time to do some sightseeing while abroad! This does take up the remaining free time that exists on the weekends, but that is certainly not a bad thing. London (and Europe) are full of so many things to see; it is impossible to see everything on one trip. Even if I see everything there is to see in London itself, the rest of the United Kingdom is connected by rail service. This makes traveling throughout the country incredibly easy! Last weekend, we took a trip to Stonehenge and Bath – a very unique experience. I’ve found it is very beneficial to get travel suggestions from locals, as they often know places that are relatively inexpensive, good to visit, and easy to get to. This is the best way to maximize my trip, as I can see several places on a student budget.
Six weeks is not a long time, and I am acutely aware of the fact that my time in London is flying by. As I continue on my journey, I will continue to make changes so that I can manage my responsibilities effectively and make the most of everyday.