It’s hard to believe, but more than two months ago I had just arrived in London from Michigan. Stepping off the plane and entering Heathrow, I was a confused, dazed, jet-lagged, about to embark on a semester unlike anything I had experienced before. While I knew the basics about study abroad—made possible by my friends’ amazing pictures and stories about their respective experiences as international students—I wasn’t completely sure how everything would come together. However, looking back on my first week in London, I feel like it is important to reflect on the difficulty of adjusting to life in a different country.
“By taking yourself outside of your comfort zone, you will become such a stronger and more independent individual.”
- You’re going to be sad.
…and that’s completely okay! Once I had made my way to the airport collection and gotten through customs, the reality of my situation hit me for the first time. I was in London. My phone wasn’t going to connect to WiFi internationally, my family was nowhere near me, and all of my belongings were at my side, crammed into two very oversized suitcases. Luckily for me, I made one of my closest friends by meeting her at the airport collection. We rode the bus from Heathrow to Queen Mary and during the bus ride, bonded over our collective concerns about studying in a different country and all of the unknowns that awaited us. Even though I had certainly connected with my fellow Associate students, I still felt so alone. Understandably so, as it was my first time traveling abroad and my first time completely independent of my friends, family, and comfort zone.
The feeling of being completely scared became a bit more real once I entered my flat in Pooley House. Upon first glance, the room seemed so bare—and SO cold. Although I have since filled it with mementos from my time abroad, it was terrifying to me that this room was going to become my home for the next five months.
- You’re going to be cold
“Remember: it does get warmer!”
I am a study abroad student for the spring semester, which means that I moved in on January 3. January in Michigan—my home state—is cold. I’m used to being cold, but am usually swaddled in various coats, scarves, and sweaters. Due to packing limitations, I could not bring my heavy duty parka and was advised by many of my friends to not bring too many thick sweaters, as they took up a great deal of room in my suitcase. The first few nights at Queen Mary were freezing. As the school had just opened back up after a long winter break, the heaters had not fully kicked on yet and my bare flat in Pooley was quite frigid. I remember being so cold that I used my warmest coat as an additional layer when attempting to fall asleep.
Remember: it does get warmer! The heat kicked on eventually, and in full blast at that! I now rarely use the heater at all and long gone are the days of having to wear additional layers to bed.
- You’re going to feel lonely.
It’s inevitable. You’ve just left everything that you’re familiar with in a country that is not accessible without boarding an oversized plane. Your home University’s comforts are also long gone and have been replaced with a completely new environment. I remember sending many worried texts to my friends and family back home, worried about if I would be able to thrive in London, as I was completely shocked by the degree of homesickness that I was feeling upon my arrival. But guess what? Everyone is in the exact same boat. The key in this situation is to keep an open mind and to say yes to as many different things as you can. I made some of my close friends by being as open and as friendly as possible. With this being said, it’s also so important to note that these moments of feeling alone and slightly scared are so important in the growing process. By taking yourself outside of your comfort zone, you will become such a stronger and more independent individual.
“Everyone is in the exact same boat.”