4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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The Royal Wedding With The Royal We

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Hey there!

I am back with another book review for all of my bookworm friends out there. You may or may not already know that reading is one of my all time favorite pastimes. If I find a book that I really like I will not put it down until it’s finished.

My favorite book series of all time is Harry Potter. I thought I would never find another book that I could read multiple times without getting bored until I found The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. These two hilarious ladies run the website Go Fug Yourself. Heather and Jessica are actually in London right now to celebrate the Royal Wedding!

Brett bought me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago and I have read it at least 6 times since then. This is a big book but I still got through it in a little over one day because I could not put it down. After I finished it the first time I immediately read it again because it was just that good. I also took it on our honeymoon in London and loved visiting many of the places in the book. We even went to Windsor Castle and walked through the chapel where Meghan and Harry are getting married. So cool!

With the Royal Wedding coming up on Saturday (or today if you’re in the UK!) it is the perfect time to dig into this book that is based very loosely on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship. I know that I will be re-reading The Royal We in celebration! I may or may not be drinking a cup of tea in my Royal Wedding cup as well (Homegoods for the win!)

The Royal Wedding, Royal We, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry


The Royal We
by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

American Bex Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it’s adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall – and Bex who finds herself accidentally in love with the heir to the British throne.

Nick is wonderful, but he comes with unimaginable baggage: a complicated family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a Brit. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex looks back on how much she’s had to give up for true love… and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break

 

Bex Porter is an American studying abroad in England who meets and eventually falls in love with the boy across the hall, Nick. This book follows the story of Bex and Nick from the moment they met to their wedding day. If they make it to the wedding that is. 😉

The words flow easily and make this story feel so real. I am still hoping for a sequel! You can tell that Heather and Jessica put a ton of research into this book.

This book is not exactly a true story like I mentioned before. But it does shed a lot of light on customs of the Royal Family and life in England. I studied abroad in London and could relate to many of Bex’s feelings from the first few chapters. Missing home, missing my sister, not quite understanding all of the British customs, etc.

Ever since I read this book I feel like I have a different perspective when it comes to Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. They are always in the spotlight and I can’t even imagine how hard it is to constantly be criticized and talked about. I have a lot of respect for these two women.

It also makes me think about the Royal Wedding. I can’t imagine how much pressure is on Meghan as she prepares for her wedding day. I will be sending lots of positive thoughts her way and hope that she can enjoy her day with Prince Harry!

I honestly love this book so much and would go as far to call it my favorite book! I keep looking for other like it but none even come close.

What are your favorite books? Will you be celebrating the Royal Wedding?

Thanks so much for reading!

 
Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley