From Down Under to Across the Pond

Mary Murray University of Westminster, England


August 14, 2018

Around this time last year, I was nervous, ecstatic, and frantically preparing myself for a semester abroad in Australia. I was constantly checking my Visa paperwork and making sure that I had everything that I thought I needed packed, saying goodbye to my friends and teammates, and trying to calm my parents’ nerves before I hopped on a plane to go on the other side of the world. 

Last time, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t like planes and spending 16 hours on a plane from Los Angeles to Melbourne, flying across the Pacific Ocean was rather daunting to me. I had never left the country before, and the furthest I had ever been from my family in New Jersey was when I was in South Carolina playing softball for a weekend. I quickly realized that these two trips weren’t even close to comparable. Luckily for me, I knew a few people in my program in Australia, and I had a close family friend who lived maybe 15 minutes from where I was there.

Why am I talking about my last semester abroad in Australia? Isn’t this blog supposed to be about England and me getting ready to go to London?

Well, yes. I say all this because how I’m feeling now is drastically different from how I felt a year ago. I’m a lot more relaxed and calm this time. This flight will literally feel like a hop to me, compared to the layovers, connections, and long-haul flights I dealt with last year. I’ve dealt with a lot of the things that I’m going to deal with in a new country: jet lag, culture shock, living on my own, exploring new places, trying new things that I would have never tried before… The list could go on.

My experiences in Australia played a huge part in shaping who I am today. Without that experience, I would still be someone who was scared to try new things and who was terrified to get out of her comfort zone. In my head, spending my semester abroad in Australia was harder than this will be. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and explored as much of Australia as I could afford. I met Australian friends who I still keep in touch with today. I fell in love with an amazing country, and honestly, I kind of wish I was going back there this semester instead of to London.

But I have to give London a chance, right? I’m more than ready to. I’m excited to see the abundance of history that lives in London. I’m excited to be so close to so many countries and to see so much of the world. I’m ready to be able to find out about the culture and compare my two semesters abroad. I’ve told myself that this won’t be nearly the same as the last semester I spent abroad. That’s the beauty of the world. No two places are the same.

Last year I was surrounded by beaches, worrying about rip currents when I swam, wearing flip-flops to class every day, and thinking it was cold when it went under 50 degrees. Now, though I know what I’m like and how I handled myself living abroad for four months, I get to explore a new place. London, as far as I’ve heard, can get pretty rainy and cold. Now is a time for me to reflect on my past experiences, and prepare for the amazing adventures I’ll have in Great Britain.

All I feel right now is a sense of reflection and of pure elation. I’ve conquered culture shock before and I’ve gotten through the homesickness before. I know that I’m capable of that. I know what I can do and what limits I’ve pushed myself past to create lasting memories. Now, in London, I feel like I’ll have more of a sense of freedom and just pure joy being able to explore so many places that I’ve always wanted to go.

I’m glad I feel different leaving this time. I’m counting down the days, and this time I’m not fearing the unknowns that I’ll encounter in Britain, but I’m welcoming them with open arms. I’m ready to try new things and open my horizons even more. I can’t wait to meet more amazing people, explore such a beautiful country full of rich history, and learn so much more about myself.