When you’re preparing for a semester abroad, it feels like you have all the time in the world. How will you pack clothing for four months in one suitcase? Which “must-do” lists are worth keeping in mind? How will you arrange your semester so you can try every cafe/see every museum/attend every musical all at once?
It’s stressful but exciting, and once you get to your destination you feel free. In my case, arriving in London brought about many emotions, but mostly that of anticipation — what will this semester hold? Now that I’m nearing my final weeks in the UK, I’ve come a long way since that initial anticipation. This semester has had ups and downs, so I present to you, a timeline of what it’s like to study abroad, month by month.
(the very end of) January
Wow! Look at you! You are living independently in a different country! And using the £! And taking the Tube! Maybe someday, you won’t need a map! So much to do! Get those to-do lists going! LONDON!
The dust has settled, and London feels more and more like home every day. Maybe you just booked your first EasyJet flight and coordinated train travel all by yourself. Or reserved an AirBnb. How independent of you! You aren’t stressed anymore, because you know you still have so many months ahead of you.
You finally have your favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Maybe the barista finally knows your order? Take it all in, kid. London is finally your city.
Heck yeah! You’ve traveled a bunch by now, and are finally kicking butt at your internship. Your days are full, and you finally feel like a full-on Londoner! How will you ever leave?
That being said, the stress starts to sink a little bit by now, and you might start to panic that you won’t get to see everything that was on your list so many months ago. You start to methodically schedule your weeks — restaurants to eat at, museums you haven’t been to, shows that are leaving town all too soon.
You are starting to accept that in the very near future, the time will come to leave. You try to take it all in, enjoying springtime in London. You check off those last things on your to-do list, but mostly try to focus on the present — the sunny picnic lunches on Primrose Hill, the long walks through Kensington with your new best friends, the laughs you share over lunch with your co-workers at your internship.
“Someday, I’ll come back,” you tell yourself. And how lucky you are to have spent this time abroad.