It is week three of my six weeks in London. The pace of the program has been moving nonstop. Sometimes it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with everything happening all at once. However, to avoid this, I realized that I fell into an unknowingly balanced routine.
Every Monday before class I go and try a new coffee shop. By doing this, I am setting the tone for the rest of my week. I get to experience something new in London and I can enjoy a coffee and pastry before going to class. Tuesday, I go to Pret A Manger for a coffee and then go to my class. Monday and Tuesdays allow me to have a balance of relaxation time, learning time, and a place to fit in coffee. I get coffee not only for the caffeine, but I get it because it motivates me to walk around my new surroundings and to get familiar with where I am. I may even walk into a few new shops or parks while I’m at it, but only if I’m feeling up to it.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are the days for structured exploring. They are the days my professors take us on site visits. Whether it be to a business for two hours on Wednesday or to a neighborhood in London on Thursday, these site visits are very beneficial. Since they are part of my class, I am given a time frame. From there I can decide if I want to stay at the sites and explore after, or maybe venture out into its surroundings. Since the first two days of the week were more laid back, these two days increase the pace.
Fridays and the weekend are always up in the air. I either have plans made in advance or I just decide as the day goes on. This is the time I use for getting ahead on homework and checking off boxes from my bucket list. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to feel like you’re missing out on plans if you stay in. That’s why I have three days that I can use for a balance of plans and for staying in to recharge and do homework.
I’ve noticed a couple of different styles of study abroad students. The first group of students never stop moving by making the most out of their time. They travel on weekends and work 24/7 throughout the week. Or you have the students who focus on classes and their internships and maybe don’t get to experience a lot of London. I believe that there needs to be a balance. Yes, travel and make the most of your time here in London. However, give yourself time to not fall behind in work or class. More importantly, give yourself time to recharge.
I was talking to a group of friends yesterday and it came up that we’re all consistently stressed because we aren’t able to take a break. My advice for anyone interested in studying abroad or to any of my fellow students in London, make time for yourself. It’s not fun to be consistently stressed. Sometimes it’s not easy to create the boundary of choosing between going out or taking a break. Also, these boundaries are different for everyone, and they take time to put in place. It took me half of my study abroad program to finally get into a routine for what works for me.
In the end, traveling to a new place is hard. You come into this program wanting to do everything all at once. From my experience as a first-time study abroad student, try to find a balance to enjoy the most of your time without burning out.