By the end of my second full week in London, I thought I’d have at least seven new adventurous stories to relay here. I was convinced that I’d be instructing everyone reading The COMmunicator blog on how you can, in fact, actually do every single thing you planned to do while studying abroad, with zero stress.
Alas, that is not the topic of this post. So, if you’re here for the perfectly filtered Instagram photos of me posing in a new country every day of the week, you many want to try another blog.
The first week of study abroad was a roller coaster. From last minute packing crises and tearful airport goodbyes to getting the first glimpse of my new city from the air and figuring out that my neighbors are literally royalty, it was a wild ride.
There were places to go, friends to make, orientations to attend, and beverages to (legally) drink. I left all my airport jitters behind once I landed in London.
I had a wonderful time exploring my new neighborhood and meeting the great people that I get to spend the next few months with. I found my classes interesting, and my interview for my internship was a success. There I was, thinking, “This semester is going to be perfect.”
Now, as most good things do, this honeymoon period came to an end. As many COMmunicator bloggers have warned before, study abroad does involve studying…
…and, yes, even group projects.
Halfway through my second week here, I found myself with a weekend’s worth of homework, and I realized that while study abroad does offer countless opportunities to travel the world, it also (forcefully) gives you the chance to hone your time-management skills. My advice is to take advantage of this, or you’ll be spending your weekends huddled in your dorm room typing instead of checking things off your bucket list.
There are also a few other things that come along with moving over 3,000 miles away from home when you’re 20 years old, and this wouldn’t be an honest account of my experience if I didn’t write about them.
First things first: Homesickness happens. I thought–since I’d done the whole “leaving home” thing twice before–that the third time would be the charm, and I wouldn’t even be thinking about New England, let alone missing it. However, this week, I caught myself counting the days until my parents were coming to visit and wistfully scrolling through my Facebook feed, feeling a little sad to be missing out on all the back-to-school festivities in Boston.
Secondly, it’s easy to forget how hard making friends is. Not having had to go through this terrifying process for a few years, I completely forgot that it takes time, patience and a whole lot of small talk to get comfortable with an entirely new group of peers. Being a fiercely independent person, I have found it easy to go off and do things on my own, which I highly recommend. Yet I must constantly remind myself to avoid becoming unintentionally isolated.
Also, while it’s fun to be in charge of your meals and to no longer have to be at the mercy of the dining-hall menu, it can also be a little overwhelming. One night, I managed to pull off a version of one of my favorite dishes: chicken tikka masala. I sent all my group chats and my mom a picture, showing off my handiwork.
Two days later, I was eating cereal and microwave rice for dinner, while drinking orange juice out of a wine glass.
Lastly, one by one, my roommates and I are succumbing to the inevitable sicknesses that often sweep the halls of college dorms in the fall. So, instead of going out and hitting two museums, three pubs, and a park this weekend like I’m sure we’d all like to be doing, we’ve been in bed, doing homework, and slurping down orange juice and chicken soup, desperately trying to combat the common cold.
Although it has been a little disappointing to face the reality that living somewhere new isn’t always a breeze, I’m grateful to have experienced these slight bumps in the road early in the semester.
Most of all, I’ve learned that while it is important to take advantage of every day here in London, it is perhaps even more important to take care of myself. There’s no use in feeling guilty for taking it easy when I’m sick or staying in on a Saturday night to study. When Monday morning comes around, I know I’ll be glad I did. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful for this opportunity if I feel homesick from time to time.
While our Instagram feeds may depict the narrative that we’re all expert, carefree, world travelers, the reality is that we’re just kids trying to figure it all out halfway across the world. We can forgive ourselves for the occasional cereal dinner.
Claire Doire, Study Abroad Correspondent
Claire Doire is a junior at Boston University studying Public Relations with a minor in Political Science. She hails from Middletown, Rhode Island and is currently studying abroad in London: the home of her wordsmithing hero, William Shakespeare. Back in Boston, Claire spends her free time dancing, acting, and working hard to one day become her own version of The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg.