An Understanding of a Culture
A culture that I did not grow up in, but grew as a person in. I found that no matter where I may be in the world, things will always be difficult and different than what I know. Sometimes these obstacles are hard to overcome. The knowledge that I gained here taught me about a world and myself in a way that could not be taught in a classroom. I learned by throwing myself out there with the aim of understanding a culture that is different from my own. If I never left, I would never fully understand what beauty lies outside of what I am used to. Although these three months are not long enough to properly understand everything that makes these countries unique from my own, it has instilled in me a hope that one day I will be back to understand it and its people more.
A Sense of Direction
I found myself in cities never seen by my eyes before. I knew coming over here that I was going to look the wrong way when crossing the street, step out in front of taxis, and have too many close calls. I was bound to get lost underground navigating the tube and stare at the maps a bit too long. These lessons have rewired my brain to really take in my surroundings. I no longer let the sights pass me by and always have my eyes wide open when exploring. My sense of direction now brings me home every night to my flat safely, as well as to my next adventures on the weekend in far away countries worth the travel. The streets that were once unfamiliar when landing here three months ago are now the streets I walk on everyday to explore what more the city has to offer.
I made a goal before coming to London. I need to maintain friendships back home but create irreplaceable ones abroad. ISA as a program has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people from my own backyard and across the nation. The city of London has provided me with opportunities to meet locals and dread the day I have to say my goodbyes. I spent my days and nights with complete strangers, giving me the opportunity to turn them into brilliant friendships. I met people of all ages, backgrounds, and from cities across Europe that truly altered my abroad experience. I spent weekends exploring cities based on recommendations of those who had previously been there. I spent nights having banter with people I feel like I have known my whole life; people that I will continue to have in my life wherever I am in the world.
The Ability to Laugh at Myself
Everything did not go perfectly during my months abroad. I did spend hours making an elaborate meal to end up with takeaway. I was put on the spot to do my best English accent, and even if it wasn’t perfect, we all could laugh at my humorous attempt. I have been called out for pronunciations of words and spent an abnormal amount of time thinking about the proper way to say “bitter.” I always tried what made me feel uncomfortable. My advice: Trip on the cobblestone streets and try to play it off, but smile at the stranger that defiantly just saw you almost fall on your face. We have all been there, so being able to not worry what others are thinking is freeing. Not worrying about messing up and laughing when you do is relieving. Being able to laugh along has made my experience so much more enjoyable and a trait I will keep with me.
This experience is what you make out of it. Throw leaves in the air like a fool. Be bold, and don’t hesitate to fall in love with the city and the people who form it.
The world awaits…discover it.