Jessica Tierney is a student at the University of California, Riverside and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jessica is currently studying abroad with ISA in Reading, England.
The main thing I was worried about when studying abroad was what it was going to be like when I got there. Would I make friends? Would I be homesick? Was the food going to taste…weird? I pondered all of these questions rather seriously because I had no idea. I’ve been in England for two weeks now and have some pretty sound advice that will help you adjust the first few days you arrive abroad.
Tip #1: You are now on England’s (or whatever country you are traveling to) time. I don’t care if it’s four in the morning in California and it’s ten in the morning here; you are going to start your day like it’s ten because, well, it is ten. Adjusting to the time is going to be difficult, but if you start off right it’ll help you in the long run. I know you’re going to be tired…I was. It was four in the morning in California and I slept an hour on my ten-hour flight to England, but by sticking to the time in England it made it easier to avoid the jet lag!
Tip #2: Everyone is scared. All the people you meet studying abroad are nervous, but you have common ground; you are all far, far away from home. This is what initially will get you talking because you don’t want to do this alone. I was so nervous to come to a different country by myself. I was terrified that I wouldn’t make friends and would be a hermit in my room, but just by that small fact that you all are far away you instantly have people to talk to. After that, it’s pretty simple…. find more common ground! Put yourself out there, it’ll be the best experience if you have people to share it with.
Tip #3: Being homesick is part of the territory. It’s different for everybody, but for me it hit right before I left. I cried walking through security, but to be honest that was the only time I did. After that I made the conscious decision to enjoy the time I have in England. That’s not to say that it isn’t okay to miss people or food (I miss Mexican food so bad), but don’t dwell on it. Say yes when people ask you to come eat or take a walk around campus and explore your new environment. Avoid being alone too much because that’s when you’ll start looking at pictures on Facebook or thinking too much. It could hit you before you leave, right when you get here, or two months in. Despite when it happens just know that this is an experience you’ll never get again. It’s going to be hard, you’re going to miss people from home, but don’t let it control you.
This seems like simple advice, but it will help in your first couple of days adjusting to being abroad. I’m not saying that by doing these three things you will never be homesick. You might have days where all you want to do is Skype with your best friend back home, but the key point to remember is that you only get this experience once. Studying abroad is a big change, but it’s 100% worth it if you let it be. I realize now why everyone told me that this was the best experience of his or her lives…because it really is the best experience of my life and I’ve only been here for two weeks! Just think about what I’ll have to say in another two!
- Interested in studying abroad?…Here are some tips! (isastudentblog.wordpress.com)
If you haven’t already, take a trip into London and visit the only chipotle in europe. When I was in Madrid and missing mexican food like crazy, their burritos tasted like heaven, and worth every second of travel time!
When I was in Reading (way back in 2009) there was a place at the Oracle that was literally EXACTLY like Chipotle. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was along the river by McDonalds. It took me almost the whole semester before my friends and I finally tried it, but it was delicious, especially after couple months of being deprived of Mexican food :)