Hello again! Better yet… ello loves! It has officially been two weeks since I have moved to the beautiful United Kingdom and begun my fall semester abroad. I’ve rode the tube, walked the London Bridge, biked through Hyde Park, dressed up for high tea, sat up top of a red double decker bus, and had fish n’ chips in a pub. Can you say, “London”? Now that I feel settled in and accustomed to the city, it’s time for another blog post.
Though I’ve only been here for a couple weeks, I thought of some helpful do’s and don’ts to follow on your first week abroad!
Do: Read all the emails sent out by your study abroad program. Specifically, where you are supposed to meet in the airport, what papers to have readily available at customs, and contact information of program representatives. I found it was helpful to have all my necessary documents in a folder inside my backpack. Also, put the phone numbers in your contacts ahead of time so you can easily call for help when you can’t find the meeting spot inside the airport terminal (oops!).
Don’t: Book out all of your weekends for traveling away. It’s easy to get caught up with where everyone else is planning on traveling. You don’t want to miss out so you also book that weekend to Prague, Budapest, Paris, and Dublin. Now you are overwhelmed with all of these travel plans, booking, and hostel reservations. Instead, make a list of where you actually want to go. More often than not, someone will always be down to accompany you. Don’t feel pressured to book a trip just because other people are doing it.
Do: Go on all of the free tours and trips that your program offers! So far, I’ve toured the Tower of London and the Kyoto Gardens, gone on historical walking tours, and drank wine at a fancy student reception. All of these events gave me a chance to see noteworthy parts of London without cost. Also, it gives you a chance to meet new friends who aren’t just in your housing. It’s a bit easy to get cliquey with these people since you see them most. Events like this lets you mingle and create friendships beyond your floor!
Don’t: Forget to settle in. The first week you want to go everywhere, see everything, try all the restaurants you yelped, and look for trendy photo spots. Don’t worry, there’s time for all of that. What’s really important your first week is getting unpacked, organized, buying products you forgot to pack, making sure your phone data and credit cards work, etc. I don’t mean to sound like a mom but once your life is in order, you can have fun instead of feeling overwhelmed.
Do: Be open. Be spontaneous. Get lost. Don’t be rigid on exactly what café you want to go to or what weekend trip you want to take. Don’t stay glued next to the couple friends that you know from your home university. Let people give you recommendations. Let the streets take you to an artsy mural instead of your Google Maps led destination. Spark up a conversation with someone in your class and go get coffee together. I personally came to London with friends from home, but have made the most amazing connections with people outside of this group. I just booked a trip to Stockholm, a city I never thought much of with friends I barely know. I had plans to walk to Covent Garden, but ended up in a hipster area called Brick Lane. Being abroad is all about new experiences. Breathe, loosen your control, and let the amazing happen.
Until next time. Cheerio!