JessieBrown_picGoing abroad last fall to London was one of the most enriching experiences I could have ever asked for. Although I had spoken to several people who previously traveled and studied abroad, there were several things that were simply not discussed that I wish people had mentioned to me before I left. Here are just some of the things I wish I had known before going abroad:

  1. Do not over pack: You may think you need the six cardigans, eight pairs of shoes, and three trendy jackets, but looking back, I didn’t wear half the clothes I brought with me. I wish I saved more space for cherished memorabilia from the countries I was fortunate enough to visit instead.
  2. Explore your new city on your own: I loved getting the chance to explore the different London boroughs, restaurants, and shops with friends, but I wish I had taken more opportunities to explore other areas on my own. Immerse yourself in the culture! After all, that’s why you’re there, right?
  3. Don’t be afraid to travel alone: I really wish I took the chance to travel to a city nearby or new country by myself. I feel as though this really could have helped me learn more about myself and given me the opportunity to see places I was interested in seeing.
  4. You don’t need to get a souvenir from every place you visit: Use your camera to capture the moment. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” After being abroad, I realize how true that statement is. The shot glass or the postcard I got from visiting Prague or Rome were cool, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I wish I took more pictures to have to look back on later in life.
  5. Vector Culture. Broken textReach out to others: Don’t get comfortable in your group of three or four friends. Make the effort to get to know other people in your program, whether or not they are from your university. Studying abroad gives you a chance to make new friends from around the United States and the globe.
  6. Make sure to balance traveling to other countries with exploring your city: Sometimes I wish I spent weekends in London exploring the many boroughs and various towns all over the city. London is known for their eclectic food, lively culture, hot British accents, and incredible markets. Although I loved every second of my travel to places like Rome, Copenhagen, Munich, Spain, and Prague, and I am extremely grateful for those opportunities, I wish I had known to maintain more of a balance.
  7. Going abroad will be a culture shock: Don’t expect everything to be picture perfect; it’s not like the movies. There are going to be times where you cry for no reason, regret your decision to go abroad, or can’t understand the local customs, but trust me when I say that, in the end, it is all worth it. Understand that it takes time to adjust and this experience is not something that should be taken for granted or go unappreciated.


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