Lessons Learned in London

This program has brought about many opportunities to grow and stretch beyond my comfort zone. With that, I’ve honed skills that will come in handy when entering the workforce post-graduation. Living in a foreign country is a challenge, meeting new people and living with individuals from all over the United States encouraged me to become more adaptable and flexible. A new environment is intimidating, however, taking small steps to adapt to a new location can make a world of difference. Academically, the flow of classes and lectures is different than what I’m used to, so planning and looking at assignments weeks in advance helps me to stay on top of work. Within my flat, living with five other girls, four of whom I didn’t know before this experience continues to encourage me to adjust to a new living environment.   

Within the classroom, I’ve seen both my writing and presentation skills expand throughout my abroad experience. My professors frequently assess progress through writing, which is different from what I’m used to at Pitt. I’ve never felt confident about my writing skills, so gaining the opportunity to write and receive feedback from my professors continues to help me grow. In addition to writing, I’ve done a few presentations in my classes as well. Further developing my ability to speak publicly is a skill that will serve me well in the working world.

Beyond course work, I’ve found that communication is key when it comes to resolving issues or even preventing them. In class when I am confused or unsure about an assignment, I always reach out to my professors or ask a classmate for guidance. Within my flat, communicating about who last did the dishes or when one goes to bed is very important. Open and honest communication surrounding disagreements is something that has led to better, more lasting resolutions. While it may be awkward to ask an additional question in class or bring up a concern, learning how to properly communicate is a key skill that I’ve developed in London. 

Getting comfortable in uncomfortable situations is something I’ve done quite a bit since arriving. To interact with the London community, I joined a running club that meets every Tuesday. This club includes members from all over the UK who reside in London. The first day I went, I was quite intimidated. Stepping into an unfamiliar situation and being the ‘new’ person was scary, however, as the weeks passed on, I introduced myself and got to know other members of the club. Now, I feel like I have a community at the running club and I look forward to going each week. This didn’t come easy, however, taking advantage of opportunities to get involved is an important skill that I will utilize moving forward. Being the new one at a job or living in a new city is always going to come with challenges, but finding ways to relate to others and get involved is an important piece to becoming a part of the community.      

Interaction with locals is one of the highlights of this experience. Learning how life is done here at a bit of a slower pace and gaining an understanding of locals’ jobs or experiences at ‘uni’ adds an interesting layer of education to this abroad program. The encouragement that I’ve received from members in my running club to go faster or run further has shown me the power of kindness, no matter who you are or where you’re from. For example, this week I reluctantly ran with a faster group, while I was nervous at first, after the run I was met with smiles and high fives all around, allowing me to share the excitement with others. Regardless of background, nationality, wealth status, or anything else, creating space for others to succeed is something I’ve learned from my fellow runners in London.   

There are many ways in which I’ve grown throughout this experience. Adaptability and communication have certainly been skills that I’m grateful to have continued to develop, however, learning to persevere through discomfort will serve me most as I look to finish out my time at Pitt and enter the workforce.