I know the title of this blog post is such a cliché…but hear me out. In the fall of 2019 I studied abroad in London. I had never traveled out of the country by myself before, so that alone was a big step for me. I had already been accustomed to living alone since I was from Chicago and going to college in San Diego, California.
When I arrived in London I was overcome with a sense of independence. No one could tell me what to do or when to do it. I was finally getting the freedom I desperately wanted. As the four months went along, I became more self-sufficient and did things on my own without asking my parents for help. I navigated the entire city by myself and learned how to use public transportation pretty fast. Going to London led me to become more comfortable with spending time with myself. I would go out to eat and do activities on my own - something I was not comfortable with before moving to London. Being able to spend time alone led me to learn new things about myself.
This experience also helped me come out of my shell. Being in a new country meant I had to ask questions and meet new people. This forced my usually shy self to become more outgoing. As time went on, I realized how much I enjoyed being an extrovert. I was able to make more friends and have more experiences because I spoke up more.
Studying abroad gave me a chance to experience new cultures. While London itself is such a diverse city with many different types of people and cultures, I got to visit cities such as Paris, Munich, Berlin and Glasgow. The differences in food, people and overall culture was so amazing to see and experience. I learned so much about these cities while visiting. I appreciate each and every one in its own way. The difference between the United States and the United Kingdom was amazing to experience in real time. There are so many customs I was unaware of before moving there that I now appreciate and miss.
This experience gave me lifelong friends from all over the world. My best friend lives in Sydney, Australia while my other friends live in places such as London, San Francisco, and Finland. These amazing people opened up my eyes to the different ways people grow up and their respective cultures. Having friends from all over the globe provides me with a different perspective of how the world works outside of the United States. It also gives me a great reason to visit these places in the future.
When I got back to the states I felt like a different person. I felt more confident in myself, knowing I had more knowledge of the world outside of the United States and outside of a classroom. My experience abroad led me to become more independent, gain new friends and have a better understanding of myself. If you’re still deciding whether studying abroad is the right decision for you, I couldn’t recommend it more!
Written by: Sydney KarlosInstagram: @sydkarloss