Well, we are finally at the end of my time here, in London!
What an experience! Reflecting on my time abroad is a very bitter-sweet moment. I would describe my time here as a long rollercoaster as I have had many ups and downs. At first, it was difficult for me to adjust and be on my own. I felt homesick and disconnected from the other students especially arriving almost a week late and having to learn and figure everything out last minute. I was thrown into a friend group and class who had time to bond and make connections. I also was thrown into the city and was expected to get around without having any time to learn and navigate through the city. Despite these challenges and the feeling of being homesick, I was able to overcome them, and I made it through the 6 weeks.
About the third week was when I began to feel at home in London. I think traveling to Paris changed my perspective and reminded me of the skills I’ve picked up and how I’ve changed since living in London. One skill I realized early on that I learned was the ability to travel and be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. If I traveled to Paris from Pittsburgh two months ago, I would’ve never been able to navigate through the city as I did when we visited from London. If I had to guess, I picked up the skill early on in my time in London. I do not doubt that I’ll be able to carry it with me wherever I go and travel in the future.
Another skill I learned was being able to be alone. This skill lined up well with what I expected when studying abroad. I was able to travel and walk around London alone and even go to the park and sit by myself all day. I expected to become more independent when I got to London, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it. I thought it would be more of something I just had to get used to because I didn’t have any other choices. To my surprise, I loved my time alone and started to crave it. Before I came to London, I couldn’t even go to the store alone or sit at home by myself without having anxiety. Now I feel comfortable and calm when I’m alone.
I not only gained these personal skills but also professional skills from my internship at NEMI Teas. Some of the skills I learned during my time with the company were cultural, leadership, creativity, and communication skills. For starters, I had to adapt and learn the culture of people in London and around the world as my job has refugees from India, Italy, and Poland. The main difference culturally was the lack of information given to me with the task, if I was given any at all. This is where the leadership skills played in as I wasn’t given any tasks and had to contact my supervisor or take initiative myself. These skills also go hand and hand with creativity and communication. As I was taking initiative most of the time, I had to become creative with ideas for social media posts as well as blog posts. When I came up with ideas, I would have to put together documents and communicate effectively with my supervisor for approval. There were a couple of tube strikes in London and special events going on like the bank holiday, so I often had to work from a hybrid approach. Although it seems like a simple task to communicate even if it’s online, it wasn’t always easy. There would be times when my Wi-Fi wouldn’t work or there was a lag between our messages so I would have to supplement my time with other tasks to stay productive.
Concluding this study abroad experience has taught me many things that staying in Pittsburgh and taking a class and an internship this summer would never have done. I will take the many skills I’ve learned and developed during this study abroad program with me back to Pitt Business, my career, and my personal life.
Until next time London… 🙂