I arrived in London last Saturday morning, having not slept on the plane and not eaten anything for quite a few hours. Appropriately, it was a cold and damp day, and I was so excited I felt sick. I met up with the welcome group, and they promptly put me in a taxi to my new home. It was a bit like going to school for the first time again, in that I was positive I wouldn’t make any friends and that I would spend the entire time alone in my room, failing my classes and having no fun at all.
Of course that’s just me being my usual self: a bit of a worrywart. The taxi ride was quiet, and it helped to confirm for me that I was really in London. The houses were small and squished together, their gardens spilling over with English roses. Driving on the left side of the road was both a thrilling and terrifying experience, especially since people in Europe don’t follow the “stay one car length behind” rule.
We finally pulled up next to a terrifying-looking building, all black with sharp angles. Thank goodness that was only the hospital that stood in front of my new school. Behind it there were long rows of orange brick buildings that turned out to be the dormitories and dozens of other students spilling out of their cars. Check-in was a long process filled with disappointing attempts at conversation, and the moment I finally found my own room, the power shut off.
What happened next apparently happens to all students who study abroad. I had a bit of a break down and tried to book the next flight home immediately. When the price of a last-minute booking shocked me out of my panic, I decided to take a nap, to settle my nerves.
Once I woke up, I decided not to allow my fears to overcome me. ‘I’m going to go out, and I’m going to see what everyone is up to.’ I said to myself.
Walking around the dorms, I notice that literally everyone was in their communal kitchen, so thinking that we were supposed to be there, I went back to my own. This turned out to be the best decision I could have possibly made. There I met Pierre the Parisian, and Jorge and Queren the Spaniards. Later that night I would meet Elise from the south of France, and Anna from Mexico.
We went to the local supermarket, (legally!) bought a bottle of vodka to celebrate our first night in London, and they confirmed my decision that studying abroad was the best idea I’ve ever had.
The next day was fantastic, I met another Pittsburgh native named Aaron, and we met up with Elise and Anna to do some sightseeing around London. I’ve been to London once before, so seeing the Big Ben wasn’t quite the experience the first time around was, but it was still fantastic. I also had my very first pint in the most authentic British pub I think anyone’s ever seen. Anna and I made plans to go to Oslo, Norway, and our group wound up talking for hours, probably thoroughly annoying the natives.
During one of our orientations, a group leader told us something that really made me feel great about the whole situation. “Study abroad is for everybody!” she shouted jovially. And it’s true. I can’t imagine a single person I know not having a wonderful time here.
So if you’re thinking about studying abroad, stop thinking. Do it. Start the paperwork now, because it’ll be the trip of a lifetime, no matter whom you are, no matter where you go. That’s all for now, until next time Seton Hill.