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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Beautiful Regent’s Park

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Hello again! London has been wonderful these past couple of weeks and has distracted me from blogging….so blame London for my absence.

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I can’t believe I’ve been here for over a month already! Time has really flown by and it’s making me sad. I love it here so much!

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I thought I would show you a little bit of Regent’s University and Regent’s Park. Before coming to London, I wondered a lot about what campus would look like here. I spent a lot of time on Google looking for pictures and pouring over maps trying to get familiar with the area.

Regent's Park London

Regent’s Park and University went above and beyond all of my expectations. The park is so well maintained and picturesque. I feel so thankful to be able to live in a Royal Park and have the Queen as my “landlord.” I’m sure not many people can say that.

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Regent's Park London

Another really cool thing about Regent’s Park is that it contains the London Zoo. I can walk 10-15 minutes from my dorm and see zebras and giraffes without even paying to go inside the zoo. It’s so cool!

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I also love that Regent’s University is so close to Primrose Hill. I went there with the girls yesterday and had a great time taking pictures and wandering around the surrounding area. It is such a beautiful little neighborhood! From Primrose Hill you can see an amazing view of the London skyline including the Shard and the London Eye.

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I hope you have enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading!!! 

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P.S. Look for a post on my weekend in Scotland very soon!! 🙂 

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Ice Bar London!

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Hello, friends!

On February 10th we celebrated Alejandra and Andrea’s 20th birthday by going to Ice Bar London! You can only be in the bar for 40 minutes because it is so cold. I thought it was fine in the beginning because I am used to Michigan winters but by the end of the 40 minutes I was more than happy to return to the warm weather.

Happy Birthday, Alejandra & Andrea!

Happy Birthday, Alejandra & Andrea!

At the beginning of your time at the Ice Bar you are given an insulated cape with a fur-lined hood and attached gloves to keep you warm in the -5 degree C bar. The walls were lined with ice and there were ice sculptures of a pineapple, cupcake, and bus as well as ice tables and cars to sit in.

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The fee to come inside the bar included one drink in the price so we all went to the bar and picked a drink. I got the “tropical sensation” which came in a glass made of ice and was super strong. We took a ton of pictures and had a great time looking around.

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After the bar, we stopped outside to take some more group pictures with the two birthday girls and then walked to Starbucks to pick up some muffins. The nice people at Starbucks provided us with a candle for the birthday muffin!

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I had so much fun going out with my friends! Ice Bar was a total blast! I am having a ton of fun in London with my new friends. I really don’t think I have ever had this much fun in my life! If you are ever in London I recommend going to the Ice Bar for a really fun night out with your friends!

Thanks again for reading!

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5 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness While Abroad

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I was honestly doing fine. The first week in London I just focused on making friends and enjoying every minute. I was so proud of myself for keeping it together and keeping my anxiety at bay. Suddenly, one bad thing happened to me and I couldn’t stop the tears and nervousness. I was still happy to be in London but the only thing I wanted was my mom by my side helping me.

It was Saturday, the day that I was going to Brighton. I had a terrible day and it made me feel so alone and small. And I really was alone, 10 minutes until I had to be at the train station and 1.7 miles away. London is big and confusing, so being alone and lost is not fun. This is especially true when you are trying desperately to hold back tears.

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I wanted so badly to call my mom but at the moment I couldn’t call her, I couldn’t call anyone not in the U.K. Later that night when I could finally talk to her I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My parents have sacrificed so much to get me here and I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful because I’m not. Even though I was ashamed of what had happened I confessed to my mom and she wasn’t upset or disappointed in me. That’s when I started to think about being homesick and what I could do to change my attitude.

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I used my experience with being homesick to create a few tips for you.

  1. Don’t be ashamed that you are homesick because there is nothing wrong with it! Being homesick means that you have a great life with people who love and miss you.
  2. Don’t dwell on it. I did and trust me when I say that you should just move on with your life. It’s okay to realize that you miss your family and friends but they want you to be happy. You will see them again so for now you need to move on and make the best of your time abroad.
  3. Talk to your family and friends. Let them know that you are missing them. It’s okay to be vulnerable for a little bit.
  4. Turn to your new friends. Even though you haven’t known them for long they will be more than willing to help you. I told my new friends that I was feeling homesick and they were there for me. They made sure to keep me busy and happy. Having them help made our relationship even stronger. If you don’t have any new friends, give it time. You can always come to my blog and talk to me!
  5. Go out and have fun! Don’t sit in your room listening to depressing music and crying. Go out, walk around, and smile. Everything will be okay!

I really hope that my experience and how I dealt with it can help you. Being homesick is not fun but it happens to the best of us. Personally, it took me a while to get back into the swing of things but I am so glad that I pushed through. Don’t let other people or your own bad experiences bring you down. You can do this!! And if you ever need help or someone to talk to I am always here for you!

Thanks for reading! Sorry for the sappy post but I am really hoping that these tips will help others who are going through the same thing I went through.

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Uni Life

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Sorry guys! It’s been a while since I’ve updated but I wanted to share with you how classes are going. I have been experiencing a bit of homesickness and I didn’t want to write a depressing post. Thankfully my friends have been amazing and their support has made me feel much better.

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Classes are a little different here than in the U.S. In Michigan, I attend a public University over 24,000 students.  Here I attend Regent’s University which is a private University with around 4,000 students. So right away there’s a big difference when compared to the U.S.

At Regent’s the class sizes are small with only 20-30 students per class. At home I can have lectures with 300+ students. I love the small class sizes which allow a lot of discussion and interaction. We are only three weeks into classes and my professors already know my name and where I’m from. I really love getting to know my professors and peers through lectures and seminars.

I am taking three modules (courses) while in London so I am taking 25 ECTS (European Credits). This translates to 12.5 U.S. credits which will either round to 12 or 13 credits when being transferred to my home University.

My Classes:

  • Events Operations Project Planning
  • Communication Across Cultures
  • International Business Environment

So far I am loving all of my courses and professors. I find the subjects really interesting even though they all involve a ton of group work which I usually hate. I have friends in most of my classes and have easily made even more friends. Everyone is really friendly here and it is easy to fit in with people from other cultures. Even though our cultures are very different I have made friends with students from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Germany, Norway, France, Russia, etc. As long as you go into study abroad with an open mind you will be able to make friends with anyone. It really is an amazing experience to be part of.

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Making the decision to study abroad has already changed me in so many ways. I feel like a completely different person and I am so relaxed. Back at home I was always rushing around with school and work and I never had time to make friends and just enjoy college. Now I am slowing down, making friends, hanging out, and making amazing memories. I just feel so grateful that I am here in London experiencing everything.

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Thanks for reading! I’m really going to try to get better at posting because I want to be able to look back at all of my adventures!

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Hello from London!

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This is my first actual Study Abroad post that takes place in London! AHHHH!!!!

The airport, flight, and moving into the dorms went pretty smoothly. Last time, the flight to London seemed to take forever but on Saturday I was able to sleep on and off the whole time! When we arrived in London we passed through customs and security really quickly and then hopped in a taxi to school. The only problem with moving in is that we are on the top floor and had to carry everything up my hand (no elevators)!

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Day one ( January 25th) consisted of trying to work the wifi, unpacking, buying a UK cell phone, visiting Primark and Boots, napping, and enjoying Fish and Chips at a local pub (Allsop Arms)! All in all, it was a perfect first day in London! Emily ended up being my roommate which was a really nice surprise! I’m feeling really grateful about everything that has happened so far!

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For a phone, I went to Car Phone Warehouse which is right down the street from Regent’s University. I bought a SIM card for 20 pounds which allowed me to receive a free phone. The 20 pounds also covered my first month of unlimited texting and 150 minutes for local calls. Since it is a basic cell phone, there’s no way to get a plan with data. However, almost every place I have been to so far has had wifi so I’ve just been using my iPhone for social media and everything else.

Today was my first day of orientation through the International Partnerships Office (IPO). The day started bright and early with introductions and registration. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t meet any friends and have to spend the day alone but I met three girls right away! After registration we went on a quick campus tour which was confusing but very helpful at the same time.

We were then given instructions to take the Underground and meet at Trafalgar Square. This made me almost as nervous as the thought of not meeting any friends. However, one of the girls that I met already had an Oyster Card and showed the rest of us how to easily get one too.

Basically, before you arrive in London you should apply for a Student Oyster Card which will give you discounts off travel. I didn’t apply for one so I just bought a regular Oyster Card that is pay as you go.  The tube was much easier to use than I originally thought! It made traveling so easy!!!

We got to Trafalgar Square pretty early so we wandered around the National Gallery. When the time came, we met back up with Regent’s and started “The Great London Treasure Hunt” which was so much fun!! We had a list of items that we needed to take pictures with (pigeon, horse, policeman, bridge, etc.) as well as questions that we had to find the answers to. My group was amazing and I will always remember our first little adventure around London.

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Day two was amazing. I saw Big Ben, The National Gallery, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Hamley’s toy shop, Piccadilly Circus, and so much more. Not to mention that I rode the tube and a red double decker bus for the first time! I also made so many new and wonderful friends. I can’t wait to see what else London has in store for me! 🙂

Cheers!

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It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Hey Guys!

I currently have 1 day and 18 hours before my flight to London! It seems crazy that it’s already time for me to go after all the dreaming and planning I have done. I am full of nerves and excitement as I set out on this amazing adventure!

I just wanted to check in and let you all know that I am leaving for Chicago tomorrow at afternoon with my parents, Dani, and Brett. We are staying at a hotel downtown and just enjoying some family time before I leave for the next four months! My flight leaves Saturday night at 5:55 from Chicago.

Saying goodbye to my family is going to be really hard. I love them so much and will miss them. Leaving Brett will also be hard because he’s my best friend and we spend so much time together. But I know that our relationship will only grow stronger because of this trip!

I’m not sure how much I will be blogging but I would really like to maintain posting once a week! I guess it depends on how well the wifi works in my dorm.

Hopefully, everything goes smoothly and the next time you hear from me I will be in London!!!!! I am so excited and nervous!!!!

Thanks for reading!

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