You are going to miss home, a lot.
This is the first thing I want to get out of the way. Deciding to study abroad and leaving home is huge! And for many of us, it is the first time being away from home for a long amount of time. It is a big change, and I’m not going to try to discount that. My first few weeks in London, I would have given anything for some animal style fries from In-N-Out and a hug from my sister. I still find myself aching with homesickness some days, however this is completely normal! I like to channel all of those feelings into excitement for returning home, rather than letting the negative feelings get in the way of enjoying my new home.
You will develop a new home, though.
The feelings that I had about leaving home to study abroad in the first place are incredibly similar to my feelings about leaving London. This city has become my new home. I have my favorite places to go and things to do that make my heart ache when I think about leaving them. I never could have imagined just how quickly this place would become so familiar, nor could have known how much I would love it!
The friends you make will become more like family.
It happens quickly! Being so far from home, the friends you make are who you can really lean on during your time. Especially with other study abroad students; they are in a similar position and become an excellent source of support. I’ve also traveled with some people from my program, which has made us even closer! It is incredible to experience different parts of our beautiful world with good friends. Making friends with the locals is really fun as well. You can really learn a lot from them, including the best places to go that may not be very well known! The connections made while studying abroad are not quickly forgotten.
You are really good at spending money.
This has to be the thing I stressed out over the most before I left. Make sure to do your research about where you are going, the access you will have to banks or ATMs, etc. For example, some U.S. banks have agreements with foreign banks where you can get paper currency easily. A travel credit card is also a huge help! I have a travel rewards credit card which has no foreign transaction fee, so I can use it anywhere with no worries! Lastly, if you are planning to study abroad in the future, now is the time to save, save, save. You won’t want to worry about whether or not you can take part in an experience because you can’t afford it. I know I’m terrible at budgeting, but it is a very helpful tool and something to look into! There are even budgeting apps that will help you to stay on track.
The “study” part is not bad at all!
A new education system in a different country can be intimidating! I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my grades would be based off of just a few papers or assessments, rather than constantly having homework, quizzes, and various tests and papers. I didn’t think I could succeed in something different from what I was used to. However, it’s not nearly as bad as I had imagined! There is much more freedom, but as long as you keep up with the reading and lectures, you will be confidently ready for the assessments when they come! I am learning a tremendous amount and finding myself excited to attend class. I feel silly for worrying about it!
You will receive so much support.
This is one of the things that I love about BCA’s study abroad program. Each program has a Resident Director to provide general support, social activities, and individual meetings. Our RD here in London, Ian Sutton, is very knowledgeable, caring, and helpful. In addition, universities have resources of their own to help, often including counseling services or student centers. And lets not forget you always have your friends and fellow study abroad students! There is a remarkable amount of support available to you!
You will learn more than you can imagine.
Sure, you will learn a lot in your classes, but you will also learn so much outside of the classroom! There are many different people you will be around and experiences that you will have that will teach you a lot. Each day will hold a new lesson, and you will become really confident in the things you learn! I had never used public transportation before coming to London, and it was scary at first. But now, I have no problem navigating the buses and the tube!
You will see more things than you ever planned.
Everyone has an idea of what life will be like while studying abroad. And while I knew travel was easy once abroad, I had no idea just how many places I could go! The most incredible things are possible. A new place has a great deal to offer. I often use Groupon and other websites to get great deals, whether I want to travel or get a day tour! There are really great deals available if you take the time to find them!
It will go by incredibly fast.
This is something that all study abroad students can agree on, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before! However, I really cannot stress it enough. Time moves so fast. Make the most of your time, because before you know it, it will be time to go home. You can watch Netflix in your room at home anytime, so get up and get out! Live every moment, take lots of pictures, and soak in every experience. Soon, all you will have is the memories to look back on — make them count!
This is going to be the most amazing semester of your life.
Making the decision to study abroad can be very scary and intimidating. I almost decided against it because I was overwhelmed. I can tell you now, that would have been the worst decision for me. I have fallen in love with this experience in a way that I did not expect. I have learned so much and grown as an individual. I have made connections with people that will continue to be meaningful. I have seen more than I ever thought was possible in such a short amount of time! I am thankful that I made the decision to study abroad; it is an experience that will shape the rest of my life.
My name is Amber Miller, and I am a junior Educational Studies major at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California. I am currently studying abroad at the University of Roehampton in London for the Spring 2018 semester.