Powered by Blogger.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before My London Study Abroad Experience

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before Studying Abroad in London | CosmosMariners.com

After my first trip to London in 2003, all I could think about was how quickly I could return. When I stumbled upon a study abroad fair at my university during my freshman year, I discovered a way to combine my love of school with my love of London and started a long journey towards adding overseas education into my academic resume.

My London study abroad experience made a big impact on me as a college student, and the experience I had in England exceeded every expectation I had going into it. If I could go back in time, here are five things I'd tell myself before I began studying abroad in London.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before Studying Abroad in London | CosmosMariners.com
Don't you love the grainy low resolution of the circa 2004 digital camera?!
(My roommate and I on the steps of Abbey Road Studios--and, no, we hadn't planned to match that day!)


1) Make sure you set your budget higher than you think you need to.

I paid for my entire summer study abroad program out of my own pocket, thanks to my paychecks from three different part-time jobs. I thought that the extra £500 I'd set aside would be enough for food, sightseeing, and souvenirs, but I was so wrong. I think I had all of £20 in my pocket when I came back to the U.S. at the end of the summer.

2) Embrace every opportunity as soon as you start your study abroad program. 

Since everything from your friends to your dorm room to your school is new during this time, the London study abroad experience can be completely overwhelming.

I'm a bit of a sit-back-and-let-the-dust-settle person, so I missed out on several things those first few weeks as I was trying to find my new normal. You really have to dive in and just let the overwhelming feelings carry you along.

3) Be prepared for anything, good or bad. 

While I made some incredible friendships while I was in London, I also lived and went to school in central London during the 2005 terrorist bombings, one of which happened just a block or so from my school.

It brought world politics directly to my front door, and I was not prepared at all. It did teach me to be more self-reliant, and it showed me how resilient London was, so some good came out of the deep tragedy that occurred that day.

4) Don't just study the entire time. 

Don't just study the entire time. I am a natural bookworm. I've loved to read since I made my way through "Curious George Flies a Kite" on my parents' kitchen floor when I was 5 years old.

Because of this, school and I have always been a good fit, and I put my studies ahead of everything, often to a fault. A lot of study abroad advice out there will tell you that while studying abroad does mean you'll be in school — and you should study while you're there — you also need to put the books down and live while you're there.

5) Know that this short time abroad will change your entire life

My summer study abroad program led me to law school, where I wanted to go into international law. When I realized I hated law school, I dove into a master's program in literature, where I wrote my thesis on post-World War II London novels.

From there, I went into teaching college literature, and from there, I made the leap into travel writing, which is where I should've been all along if I'm honest with myself. The vast majority of my professional life started with that one London study abroad program.

It's now been more years than I'd like to recount since I got on that plane to London, but, in so many ways, I feel as if no time has passed since it was such a deeply important moment in my young adulthood. It's rare that a week goes by when I don't think of the months I spent in London, and I'm grateful that I was able to include those experiences in my time at Clemson University.

I'm hoping to do a continuing education course at Cambridge or Oxford one day, which will add to my study abroad experiences even more. Hopefully, I'll be a little more prepared the next time around!


Did you study abroad during college? Would you be interested in a London study abroad experience?

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before Studying Abroad in London | CosmosMariners.com


Want even more travel goodness? Sign up for the newsletter and get the latest Cosmos Mariners updates, giveaways, and travel news right to your inbox!

Newsletter Signup Newsletter Signup