Why London Mid-Pandemic Was the Best Risk to Take

Payton Sims London, England


October 11, 2021

Did I ever intend on studying abroad for my final semester of college? Absolutely not. But did I think that I would ever live through a global pandemic that literally shut the entire world down? Another no. When life seems to have a mind of its own for your journey, the best way to cope is to hold on and go along for the ride. And that ride is how I ended up in London, England studying abroad for my last semester of undergrad.

While I would have liked to study abroad my spring semester junior year like most students who chose to go abroad at my university do, COVID had other plans. But I knew that an education abroad experience was something I could only do while in college, so when the opportunity arrived, I was ready for whatever was going to come my way.

I applied for my program at the beginning of my spring semester last year, and soon received an email saying “Congratulations, you have been accepted!” It seemed almost too good to be true as the pandemic had taken so much. When people asked if I was excited, I would respond ecstatically but internally was cautious to get my hopes up too high.

As the months continued to pass and summer was underway, the thought that I was actually going to be able to travel abroad was almost like a dream. During July, the UK began to peak with cases again, and I thought all hopes were lost, but I soon received an email from Arcadia saying it was time to book my ticket and all the nerves kicked in. I had never been on a plane by myself before, let alone a flight that is almost 8 and a half hours long. It was like the whole study abroad experience was just some dream looming over my head that was never going to come to fruition, but two weeks ago as I waved goodbye to my family at the airport with a negative COVID test in hand, that dream became a reality.

Deciding to go to London on my own without knowing anyone or anything about the city was a scary endeavor to embark on. I am not one who intentionally pushes myself outside my comfort zone, so the idea of spending 3 months in a country I had never been to usually wouldn’t be at the top of my list. I like to know all the factors and possibilities before going into a new situation and risks have never been my friend. But what is reward without risk?

So, I decided to take the plunge, diving headfirst into whatever life was going to throw at me. It seems like I have made it, I am loving every single minute of being in London. I have made amazing new friends, get to drink delicious coffee multiple times a day, met my roommate and best friend who is now always tied to my hip, and enjoying each day as the new adventure it is.

From visiting the London Bridge to multiple tube rides a day, every day I spend in London I fall more and more in love with my new life here. In order to stay safe in the UK, we conduct at-home COVID tests twice a week, just to make sure we are all as healthy as possible. While the majority of people in the UK are now vaccinated, it is still required to wear a mask on public transportation, and I wear mine in all stores as well just to be extra safe, because no one wants to get COVID. All that being said, I don’t think I would have ever imagined willingly taking COVID tests twice a week or wearing a mask anywhere that isn’t outside. But I never imagined a pandemic being part of my story to begin with. So, we are rolling with the punches and finding new ways to laugh at every turn. There is nothing scarier to me than not knowing what is being set in front of me. But something about this city, the people I am surrounded by, and the adventures I am enduring make it all worthwhile.

Here’s to more growth and laughter along the journey! Talk soon! X