These past few weeks in London have been absolutely incredible. My expectations of what I would be gaining from this trip, whether it be friends, education, or work experience are completely blown out of the water – I could not be enjoying it more. There are, however, a few tips and takeaways that I would like to share that have helped me become completely accustomed to my new life in not only London, but Europe as well. First off, try not to be afraid of any new opportunity that presents itself while you are there. Second, it’s completely okay and normal to feel homesick – nobody is perfect and even though I have had my fair share of travel, I still occasionally feel homesick. Finally, plan your budget! It is easy to be swept up in activities and going out with your friends, so try to stay on top of your money by following a few tips and tricks.
Being abroad certainly has its ups and downs, however, it is important to try to immerse yourself as much as possible into the culture while you are there in order to get the most out of the experience. If your program offers any excursions or extra activities that you can participate in throughout the week, try to get involved in them! You will not be the only person who feels a little out of place, and once you realize that while hanging out with other people, you will feel so much better. When I had first arrived, I realized how much time there was before I would go home and see my family and my friends, but once I settled in, I felt right at home (and if you can not tell from all of these blog posts, I’m loving it). Here at CAPA, we’ve had opportunities to go to Stonehenge, Bath, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, and although I have not participated in all of these trips, I have enjoyed the ones that I was able to go to. Not only do these trips allow you to make friends, but you also get to experience your city or country in ways that you most likely would not have done before.
On another note, homesickness is something that comes hand-in-hand with study abroad. It is completely normal, and although it is an awful feeling, it usually decreases as time goes on. Typically, people experience almost an “after-shock” once being abroad where it finally hits that you are abroad. A tip to overcome this, however, follows along with what I was talking about above; saying yes to chances and opportunities can help you get over the homesickness as you are meeting new people and exploring new places. Whenever I am feeling homesick, it helps me to talk with my friends. It is also completely okay to call home every now and then as well, as long as it is in moderation. Even just remembering that homesickness is normal can ease the pain and loneliness.
A final takeaway that I have learned so far on my journey is that it is so easy to just keep spending money. Unfortunately, as a college student this is the norm but being abroad makes it so much easier to spend funds on random things, whether it is shopping, going out with friends, traveling to other places, etc. There are two tricks that I personally have used to help myself budget a little bit. First, live like the locals do. There is no reason to go to all these fancy restaurants that serve the finest food in town – you most likely have similar restaurants back home. Instead, say you are in London like I am, just buy some fish and chips from your local Poppie’s or fish and chips place. Maybe hit Wagamama or Nando’s – this is the perfect way to enjoy local food without overspending. It’s more authentic, and hey, maybe you’ll meet some lifelong friends just around the corner 🙂 Another tip is to ask if there are any student discounts. Most places understand that college or even high school students are running on a tight budget; therefore, there are typically 10-15% discounts, but you won’t know that unless you ask!
In just three weeks, I have learned a lot, seen a lot, laughed a lot, and done a lot. It’s crazy that this is already the halfway mark of this awesome study abroad program, and in all honesty, I wish I could stay for much longer. Well, that’s all I have for now – catch you in a few weeks for my final blog!