Dear pre-departure Connor,

If I told you the day before you left to spend the next four months of your life abroad in London, that by the end of this short time you would have traveled to eight different countries, made many new friends, and learned about several new cultures in that span you never would’ve believed me. As these last few weeks fly by, it’s a great time to stop for just a second to reflect on how I have grown throughout this global experience. Before this program, I had never really lived far from my family (being a Pittsburgh local), but even being as far away as across the Atlantic Ocean is not as bad as I anticipated. It is really nice to have this kind of independence and getting to experience it with the friends you came with—and made along the way—is really a beautiful thing.

 What I really wish I had known before the program is just how fast time flies while over here. Flying over here during the second week in January feels like just yesterday, and now here I am trying to make the most of my last few weeks here. I wish I had done a better job at planning out the things I wanted to do when I came over here, because I am now scrambling to see things that I should’ve seen so much earlier. I also wish I had known just how easy it is to travel anywhere and everywhere here, whether it be within the United Kingdom or in Europe. I was so nervous about travelling elsewhere when I came over for a variety of reasons, but it could not have been easier. No matter where I went there was always someone who would go out of there way to be nice and help me out, and that kindness goes a long way.

As I mentioned before, I think what surprised me most about the entire experience was just how short it was. Before I knew it after I got here it was spring break, and now the end of the program is in sight. It is truly bittersweet knowing that I will be home in such a short time but knowing that I won’t be here. I think one of the hardest parts about the entire experience is the thought of leaving a place as amazing as London. I was more than prepared when I came across the pond because of the excitement of everything to come, and yet here I am not ready to make the return journey.

If there was one thing I could say to anyone going abroad, although it is cliché I would say that it truly is a once in a lifetime experience, and it is important to make the most of the whole thing. Book that weekend trip to Switzerland! Do a ghost tour in the vaults of Edinburgh! Get that beef wellington at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant! You are only here for a short time and you need to enjoy it any way you can!

Get out there and explore!