Unlike Graduate Interns in the past, I am new to Londontown.
I arrived in London only three weeks ago, and it’s been a rough start. From house hunting, to banking issues, to getting lost and squished on the Tube (with two large suitcases I might add), to forgetting that things are on the other side of the street (and nearly getting hit by a bus!)—it’s been a struggle. As stressful as it has been these past few weeks, I know that this is all to be expected: I’ve now moved to five different cities across four different countries.
I might be new to Londontown, but I’m not new to the study abroad experience. To date, I’ve studied at four different universities across three different countries (Japan, Spain and Switzerland). My U.K. visa makes the fourth residence permit in my collection! As amazing as it sounds, living, learning and traveling in three different countries, each experience has had its own struggles. Each has given me a different perspective about the study abroad experience.
Yeah, it has been a rough start, but I guess you can say I’m used to ‘getting used to’ different places. And, like many of you reading this, I’m determined to discover all that this amazing city and country have to offer. I’m hoping to make this place my home.
This ain’t my first rodeo.
My study abroad adventures started in Japan, when I landed in Osaka just one week after my Spring quarter finals with zero knowledge of Japanese and a limited understanding of the culture and its customs. In retrospect, this was a really crazy idea; a little more knowledge of Japanese or a little more time might have helped me prepare emotionally or mentally. However, having done it three times since, I’ve come to realize that as much as you try to prepare, you can’t prepare for everything. You are guaranteed to struggle, and that’s okay.
Sure my ‘let’s-land-in-Japan-with-zero-communication-skills-and-see-how-it-goes’ plan was crazy, but I honestly would not have had it any other way. I took a giant leap, all the way across the Pacific ocean to be exact, and launched myself outside of comfort zone to discover a different language, people, and way of life. I admit, it was not easy. In fact, sometimes it was very, very hard. The more leaps I took, however, the more I learned about myself and my ability to tackle any situation, no matter how uncomfortable or unexpected.
I am your resource!
With each experience, I’ve grown more confident and taken more and more leaps, which is how I’ve landed myself a seat at this desk in the London Study Centre office, excited to share all I’ve learned with you and help you make the most out of your experience here in London and the U.K.
Having been in your shoes four times already, I do have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. As I continue to learn and adjust throughout my time here in London, I’ll be sure to pass the wisdom along, and look forward to you sharing your experiences and stories.
So, if you’re reading this as an incoming student, know that you and I are on the same boat/struggle bus (I’ll let you choose your metaphor). I am still catching on to the flavour of ‘English’ here, still trying to keep in mind the right side of the road (which is the left), and still finding ways to make this place feel like home, for however short a while I am here. It’ll take time, but I’ll get there one day. I’m confident that you will too.
NOTE : I will be in touch with students throughout the year. If you have an experience, or story you want to share (to enlighten us on a certain aspect of UK life, to share a laugh, etc.) email Esther at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can feature you in our Student Stories or Student Spotlight pages!