I am writing this blog as I sit on my flight back to the United States of America. As I reflect above the Atlantic Ocean, I ask myself if I were given the opportunity to do this experience again, would I? What would I do differently next time? Was it worth it? In this blog, I’ll reflect on the past two months using those questions. I feel that sharing my reflection could be useful to those who are studying abroad in the future and relatable to other has-been study abroad students.
Would I do it again?
Living and Working or studying abroad is a rich, exhilarating experience, filled with memorable moments. However, it can be an exhausting experience. I would certainly do this experience again, but not anytime too soon because of the need to rest. As I got onto the airplane earlier, I let out a long breath that I did not even realize that I had been holding over the summer. While I was abroad, I did not want to have too much down time. As I should have, I felt the urge to do everything that I could in and around London. My living accommodation neither had a television nor air conditioning, so if I was simply lounging around during my free time, then not only was I wasting valuable time during a rare experience, but I also found myself missing home more because lounging around at home with air conditioning, a television, and PlayStation is more enjoyable. With all of that being said, I feel that I need time to rest, but I do not think that I have run out of room to grow globally with this one experience. I would certainly study abroad again. I have a newfound desire to explore more corners of the earth and I feel that studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to do this. If I were to do another abroad program, I would do a study abroad program rather than just an internship. As I will get into later, the internship was very well worth it, but I would take classes abroad to have a different experience. Internship programs have fewer obligations off of the clock than do study abroad programs, but you have less time off of the clock during internships than you would if you were taking a class. You have more control over your time but also more obligations when you study abroad as opposed to doing an internship.
What would I do differently if I knew then what I knew now?
As I touched on already, it is important to explore. Although it was exhausting at the end of it all to not allow myself much time for rest, I can point to a couple of days and evenings which I still regret allowing to get away from me. During the beginning of the summer, I did not feel comfortable just going and seeing London on my own. I met incredible people this summer and spent a lot of time with them, but some of my most memorable experiences came when I just went and explored on my own. I did museums, walked around, and spent most of a day exploring the tower of London. You still need to be smart and know when and where it is safe to go alone, but tourist attractions and museums during the day I always found to be just fine to do alone. By the time I got off of work at 6:00, most of the tourist attractions were closed. I did not do a good job of finding more to do on weeknights. These could have been great experiences to seek out popular things for locals to do on the weekend and live even more like a local than a tourist.
Was it Worth It?
There are three decisions in my mind in regard to studying abroad: whether or not to do it, what to do (intern or study), and where to go. For anyone who may consider studying abroad – do it. If you are worried about missing out on a full semester at Ole Miss (as I was), go during the summer or the winter. College is the only low-risk chance for most people to live in a different country for an extended period of time. Sure, you could move to and work in a different country post-graduation but that is much more of a commitment than studying abroad. Interning in a different country had a multitude of impacts on me, professionally and personally. Since I am studying during a majority of the year, it was nice to get to get to work and see some of what I have learned in action. I feel that I got to know a greater variety people than I would have if had I studied, since I met people from a variety of generations and places. Deciding to go to London was completely worth it. London had plenty to do, and I did not do anywhere close to it all. London has an incredible mix of history and the modern. London is neither antiquated nor out of touch with its rich history. Every aspect of this experience grew me and impacted me as I ventured far outside of my comfort zone and for that it was extremely worth it.
With that, I say farewell to London, the United Kingdom, and this blog for now. Thank you to all who tuned into my happenings this summer.