It has been almost 3 weeks since I finished my semester in London. Although initially frightening, studying in the United Kingdom and traveling throughout Europe for five months was the best decision I made. I could easily write a short novel about personal growth and all the knowledge I gained. Instead, I want to share with you the six most valuable things I took away from my experiences abroad.
Have faith in yourself
Going away from one’s ordinary lifestyle for an extended period of time is a difficult decision. When I first arrived in London, I lost confidence in myself because I thought I wasn’t ready to be independent, let alone in a whole different country. Growing up, my Dad repeated the phrase “Falk’s say can” when we felt defeated, and this stuck with me. I channeled this phrase as my mantra and trusted the study abroad process. Having faith in myself, despite the fear of the unknown, I embarked on a journey that changed my life for the better.
Cherish the “slow moments”
After reflecting on my time abroad, I have come to realize that some of my favorite memories are the “slow moments” of my semester. When I say, “slow moments”, I am talking about the little moments in time where you truly just enjoy the present: sitting with a friend in a coffee shop or laughing about someone’s fart (yes, farts are always funny). I distinctly remember waking up early one morning in Mykonos. I simply sat outside the Air BnB listening to some calm music and took in the pristine view surrounding me. At that moment, everything was peaceful. It is easy to get tied up in the rush of life when traveling and taking classes, but it is important to take time and appreciate the “slow moments”.
Take a picture and then put the phone away
We as a society are inherently obsessed with our technology and sharing our lives with one another. Throughout my travels, I noticed that sometimes I would be in the most beautiful location, but busy either checking Snapchat or attempting to capture the best picture. It is extremely tempting to constantly share and document your journey. The best advice I could give is to take a picture of the sunset but then put your phone down to watch the horizon.
The energy you put out in the world will come back to you
I went into the semester with a curiosity for life and the desire to learn how different cultures function. I was lucky enough to find friends who have similar values. I tried to go into each experience with an open mind and the desire to step out of my comfort zone. Some of my best memories occurred when I merely let-go and enjoyed life in all its uniqueness. I honestly feel that it goes back to the saying, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Put out good vibes in the world, and they will come back to you.
When I was abroad, I was presented with countless opportunities. Say yes, because you never know what will come from them. Obviously, there are limits to this advice, but it is up to you to make the mature choice. I stepped out of my comfort zone many times while traveling and meeting new people. By consciously making the decision to say yes to different things, I learned something new about myself or the people around me.
That is a given, but sometimes you can get wrapped up in the small things. Five months will be over before you know it. Talking about the drama from the night before or worrying about gaining the much feared, “abroad 15”, will not matter in the long run. You will remember jumping in the Mediterranean sea or trying octopus for the first time. The memories I created abroad are ones I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Enjoy the present and just have fun!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my time abroad! Feel free to contact me with questions or even leave a comment below if you have also studied abroad and reflected on similar experiences. Step out and experience the world.