The Importance of Exploring Your New Home Country

Payton Sims London, England


November 15, 2021

Studying abroad can be a whirlwind, especially when you spend every weekend traveling to new, incredible destinations. There is a captivating need to do and see every single thing, filling up every open moment with a memory that will last a lifetime. And while it is important to use the time you have abroad to your advantage, it’s important to explore your new home, too.

My friends and I spent the first four weekends of our semester taking trips to different parts of England before we started country-hopping, and I cannot recommend it enough. As much as I was itching to go to every single country that I had made Pinterest boards about for months, I was beyond amazed by all the beautiful nooks of England that we discovered. 

We started our first travel weekend by going to Bexhill-on-Sea (no, we had never heard of it either). It is a little coastal town by Hastings, where we had planned on going before finding out our AirBnB was in Bexhill. Part of our explorations included swimming in the freezing cold English Channel, visiting a beautiful castle, and eating our first English breakfast.

We then took some day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, and Windsor Castle. Each little city had its own type of charm. Oxford held the obvious dark academia vibes, which only increased as our trip was full of umbrellas and soaking wet shoes by the end of the day. Cambridge was a bright and lively town with lots of busy streets, museums, and gelato shops. At Windsor Castle, it was surreal to know that the Queen has walked up and down the halls that we casually strolled through. Day trips are the perfect way to indulge in culture and history, but still get home to sleep in your bed.

Our favorite trip was to the Jurassic Coast. On a sunny Saturday, we took a train from Winchester, hopped on a few buses, and ventured to a trail that took us to Old Harry’s Rocks in Dorset. I am not the type to want to hike miles and miles, but this trail was something different. It wasn’t too difficult, and every step made me fall more and more in love with the English countryside. Awestruck by the cliffs, we took everything in as the sun slowly began to set. 

On the way down, we found a cute little restaurant on the water. We ordered some fish and chips and watched the sunset as we finished our dinner. It was such a beautiful day that was filled with no expectations, and I will remember it for years to come.

Yes, the countries we have visited outside of England are absolutely breathtaking in their own ways. But if we didn’t spend the first few weeks in England learning about all the different cities and coasts, I don’t think my English experience would have been the same. There are still so many places we want to go in England, but it seems like our time here is slowly dwindling away. 

We are starting to focus on not only the country we live in, but also the city we spend every waking moment in. We are booking tickets to see musicals and enjoying high tea, Sunday roasts, and traditional English activities to make us feel as local as possible. We are discovering that there is not enough time to do it all, so it is important to have a list of things that you know you have to do before your flight home, and some you can live without. That list may change (I know mine has), but wherever you end up, soak it up right where your feet are. If you are traveling or just commuting to class, be in the moment. Take mental and written notes as well as photographs because you’ll want to share these experiences with everyone when you eventually have to go home. 

Just don’t stop traveling. You made it halfway across the world—why stop now?