Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great Spring Break, make sure you let us know what you did!
I had the chance of a lifetime: a week long trip to London, England. I have dreamt of visiting London since I first saw a picture of Big Ben when I was younger, and to have this opportunity was amazing.
I got to take Shirley and Kirby with me, and they had an amazing time! However, they were not too happy when they had to drag me out of bed on the morning of our depature from London!
After having experienced this for myself, I have 9 reasons everyone should travel abroad at least once during their lifetime!
- It’s fun
This one’s pretty simple. Shirley, Kirby and I did a lot over our trip, and it was a lot of fun! No matter where you go, I’m 1000% positive you will have one of the best experiences of your life!
Food is different restaurant to restaurant in the US, so going to a completely different country means completely different food. I tried my first savory pie while in London and it was amazing! I also, obviously, got some fish and chips which were also great! I tried some foods I have had before and they all had a different twist! One of my friends had a burger with bacon jam on it—which she said was the highlight of her trip!
Anyone who knows me knows how addicted I am to Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I stopped at a Dunks in London, and it was the single best coffee I have ever had in my life. I loved it. They even had the old school napk
The culture in London is very different from the U.S. Even though we speak the same language (it still took some getting used to!), there are many other things that are different over there. The currency is different, dining is different, even just walking down the street is different (stay to the left). One of the most eye-opening experiences was extremely simple—on the escalator, if you’re standing still on it you stay on the right. If you’re moving up/down, you pass on the left. I thought it was absolutely genius!
- On Your Own
Being in a different country completely on your own is quite the experience. I got lost at least once a day. Not completely lost (that was only one or two times during my entire trip), but you have to pull over while you’re walking because you have no idea if you’re even going in the right direction. While trying to get to a pub (yum!!) my friends and I walked 5 miles in total. We never found the pub we were looking for, and instead found a smaller, quiet place which turned out to be absolutely amazing. We ended up about 8 stops away from our hotel, and 4 away from the stop we got off at. I loved being able to just… go. I woke up in the morning, had breakfast, and at breakfast my friends and I discussed what we wanted to do that day. It was amazing. Our conversations went something like…
“What should we do today?”
“We could see Big Ben? Then go on the Eye?”
“What if we went to Oxford? Or Stonehenge?”
“I think we should do that tomorrow—what about the Library and King’s Cross? Then maybe we can hop on the tube and go to Big Ben and the Eye?”
It felt so good to be able to do what we wanted, rather than what other people wanted.
- Broadens your Mind
If you refer to number 4, this can be an eye opening experience. It will broaden your mind, no doubt. I learned a lot about British culture and about different people. Being in the middle of one of the greatest and oldest cities in the world was amazing. I learned a lot about myself, the people I traveled with, and the city of London.
This one’s easy—it’s a new experience. However, it could be used in a professional way as well. If you don’t have too much work experience (much like myself), this could help you in job interviews. You will always be asked about a difficult time and how you overcame it. Being lost in a foreign country can be that difficult time! Or perhaps being away from home for so long, or any struggle you have. The struggles you have overseas will be magnified because the solutions are much harder to find. For example, when I was lost, I couldn’t use my phone’s GPS. Luckily, I had a tube map, a bus map, and a regular map of London. However, most people wouldn’t have those things. Not being able to use your phone or to ask Siri which way the hotel is could be extremely difficult to deal with!
When you visit a foreign country, you will also meet natives!! Shirley met Alfred– they got along great!
- Get Moving
I did SO much walking. I walked about 3-7 miles a day. The days I got lost I probably walked closer to 10 miles. I was exhausted every night, but it was amazing. Especially in a city like London where the tube is so easy to use, it is a million time easier to walk to your destination or take the public transit! One night on my way back from seeing Phantom of the Opera, the tube was closed down and it would have been about a 3 mile walk, at about 11:00 at night. My friends and I decided to split a cab, total it ended up being almost 20 pounds! It was ridiculous! It would have cost 2.40 to take the tube, plus a 15 minute walk to our hotel. Walking is amazing, and it makes all the eating you’ll be doing okay! It just cancels everything out.
- Expand your Vocabulary
The vocabulary used in other countries is… different. Even if you travel to an English speaking country, or even a country where most of its population also speaks English, you’ll learn a lot of new words and phrases.
If you have ever tried to learn a new language, you know that you need to get creative sometimes. Especially when you don’t know how to say a specific word, and your professor refuses to tell you because it’s a graded exam (this happened to me last semester), you need to find a way around the word. I was writing a paragraph about a mystery, and I wanted to say that “their plan was foiled” but I didn’t know how to say “foil.” I eventually wrote that their plan was broken. It was awkward and weird, but it worked. Everyone knew what I meant, and if you travel in a non-English speaking country you will definitely see that!
- Appreciation for HomeI am currently on my plane home, and I couldn’t be happier. I miss the U.S. I miss my own bed. I miss my mom a lot, and oh my gosh I can’t wait to see my dog!! It was so hard being away from home because I didn’t have the option of calling my mom or sister whenever I wanted. I had to wait until I had Wi-Fi and skype them, FaceTime them, or message them on Facebook. At home, you can just call your mom or dad whenever you want! Walking home and want to chat? Give them a call. In between classes? Call your brother. Miss your sister, Just text her. But not in another country. You have to wait until you’re at a McDonalds, or your hotel, or a Starbucks to message them on Facebook, then remember that you’re 5 hours ahead of them. Which means that at 10am, my family wasn’t even awake yet.
While I was in London I did a LOT of shopping for other people. I bought something for every person I know, for the most part. I would see something and immediately think of my sister, or my mom and then I would HAVE to buy it for them. I missed them a lot, so it was hard not being able to talk to them whenever I wanted!
Traveling abroad has been the best experience of my life, and I strongly suggest that everyone tries to do it at some point! London is a very expensive city (I’ve been saving for this trip for just a little too long), but there are plenty of cheaper places to go abroad.
If you ever have any questions about going abroad, contact the Center for International Education at (978) 542 – 6351, or you can email them at email@example.com. They are located in the Sullivan Building, room 114.
If you have any other questions, feel free to contact FYE at (978) 542 – 2618, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can stop by MH 100A!
Enjoy the rest of your semester!