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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Hello Again!

It’s been a while since I have added any new content to this blog. There are a few reasons for this but it’s mostly because I have been feeling pretty down since returning to the U.S. It has been a lot harder for me adjust back to life here than it was for me to adjust to life in London. Don’t get me wrong, it is great being back with my family and Brett but I miss my carefree life in London.

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There have been a lot of changes in my life recently that have also affected my desire to blog. I have the best news that I will share with you all on my next blog post! I have also recently accepted a promotion at work which has led to some training and new responsibilities. Going back to work has been hard but it is a good way to keep my mind off of London.

I also feel like a lot of bloggers only show one side of their lives which is the happy, perfect side. During this adjustment period nothing has felt blogworthy because I felt like it wouldn’t live up to people’s expectations. Ultimately, I write this blog as a way of documenting my life and sharing it with others going through similar experiences. I have decided that even if no one reads this blog it still deserves to be shared and explored.

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This summer I worked a ton, took two summer classes, and spent time with my family and friends. It was a great summer that went by way too fast. Fall semester is almost here and I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in May!!

As of today I will be blogging as often as I can. I want to share a lot of the experiences that I had while abroad as well as my day-to-day life. If you have any suggestions about what to write or blogging advice, please let me know! I can use all of the help that I can get!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my exciting, life changing news!

P.S. I am going to my cousin’s wedding this weekend and starting school again on Tuesday so I may not blog right away! Sorry and thanks for sticking with me!

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Sunday Funday at Primrose Hill

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Hello, friends!

One of my favorite things to do in London was explore the Royal Parks with my friends. While I was in London I had the privilege to live in Regent’s Park which is one of the largest parks in central London. Near Regent’s Park is Primrose Hill where you can climb to the top of the hill and have a fantastic view of the London skyline.

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The last Sunday (5/10/15) in London before my family visited six of us girls packed a picnic brunch and climbed Primrose Hill to eat. Anna  Sophie made pancakes at her flat and the rest of us brought drinks and snacks. I brought a blanket and we all lounged together for hours eating, laughing, and chatting about anything and everything.

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It was the perfect day for a picnic with the sun shining brightly over London. We had a clear view of the skyline and were even surprised with the Red Arrows doing a flyover right above us! It was such a cool experience to be a part of!

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I miss my friends and I really miss the simple things like spending the afternoon relaxing together. London was the most wonderful adventure of my life where I met my life-long best friends! Primrose Hill was one of my favorite places in London to explore and relax at.

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Thanks for reading! 

P.S. All of the pictures in this post were taken by Anna Sophie! Thanks for letting me use your pictures! 🙂

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June Goals

June Goals // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hello again! I am back from my little blogging break! 🙂

This past semester I studied abroad in London which turned into the best experience of my life. I still have many posts that I would like to share with all of you about things that I did while I was abroad. I flew back to Michigan on May 30th and have just been putting my life back together ever since. It was hard coming home because I feel like I am a much different person now then I was in January when I left for London. I don’t fit the same way in my old life anymore so there are many things that I need to adjust.

Now is my chance to change whatever I would like about my life. I have decided to set myself a few goals for June in order to stay on track and get some things done. This is a new kind of post for me so let me know what you think!

  1. Spend more time with my family and friends: After being away for four months I have a lot of catching up to do. I also realized while I was gone that in the past I haven’t had much time off to spend with my family and I really regret that. I need to start putting my family first.
  2. Take Megan on at least five walks a week: Megan is our family’s three and a half year old puggle. We got her in October and she is a little bundle of energy! I’ve been taking her on a walk every day since I have come back and she really loves it.
  3. Focus on eating healthy: While I was abroad I ate whatever I wanted to and never thought about the consequences. Now that I am back I need to focus on eating healthy and getting back to a heathy pre-study abroad weight.
  4. Organize my bedroom and donate/sell clothing: I have already started doing this and it’s exhausting. While I was gone I lived with just a few clothing options and I liked it much better than having an exploding closet. Now that I am getting older I need to start investing in quality pieces instead of focusing on quantity.
  5. Start working again: I’ve been home for almost a week and haven’t started at work yet. I am going back to my old job which I am excited about but I needed some time off before going back to figure things out.
  6. Finish study abroad blogs: I got really behind on blogging while I was in London because I spent the majority of my time doing things with my friends or exploring London. I have so many adventures that I would still like to share with you! Hopefully I will have time to finish everything this month!

I’m thinking that setting goals each month will be a great addition to my life and this blog. I would love to read about all of your goals so please let me know if you are also doing these posts! I’m always so inspired by other bloggers! Also, at the end of the month I may or may not to a recap where I review the goals that I had set for myself.

Thanks for reading! It’s so nice to back to blogging!

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June Goals // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break Adventures in Germany

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

Hello, friends! 

I’ve been struggling for the past few weeks trying to decide how to write a post that would describe how amazing my spring break was. But last night I came to the conclusion that there are not enough words to even begin to tell you how much that trip meant to me.

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

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

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

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

One of the main things I was scared of about studying abroad was making new friends. But almost instantly I met this amazing group of girls. We have danced, sang, laughed and cried together over the last four months and their friendship means the world to me.

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

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

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

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

With that said, our trip to Germany was absolutely perfect because we were together. It didn’t matter what we did on the trip because the only thing that mattered was the people that we were with. I want to say a huge thank you to Anna Sophie, Shere, Ana, Alejandra, and Andrea for being my best friends and making our trip unforgettable.

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

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

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

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

Anna Sophie’s family was amazing and made every aspect of our trip amazing. In Berlin, we met her Grandparents who treated us like family from the second they met us at the airport. They greeted us with hugs and flowers and it didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language because their actions spoke volumes about the amazing people that they are.

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

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

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

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

When we arrived at Anna’s family home we met her brothers, mom, and dad. They welcomed us warmly and we immediately felt at home with them. Her parents made us amazing dinners and took us on a ton of adventures near their home. In Germany I gained two grandparents, a mom, dad, 2 brothers, and 5 sisters. It was truly an amazing experience.

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

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

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

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

When I decided to study abroad I set a goal for myself to travel to as many countries as I could during my time abroad. I think the old me would have been disappointed with me deciding to spend my whole spring break in Germany. But the one thing I have realized most during this trip is that it’s not about what you are doing, it’s about who you are with. These girls have made my study abroad semester truly unforgettable and their friendship means the world to me.

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

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

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

Going back to London after spending ten days in Germany was hard. I missed my family and the relaxed lifestyle that we experienced. But most of all, I missed my girls.

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

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

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

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

I miss spending every night with them because it was like an amazing ten day sleepover. I miss talking until 2 am and our “midnight walks.” I miss watching Mama Mia together while laughing, singing, and dancing. I miss eating massive amounts of chocolate and drinking tea all day. I miss the sea and watching the sunset at the beach. I miss that time because I know that I will never experience the same feelings again. I am thankful to have had this experience and to be able to share these memories with you.

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

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

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

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

Studying abroad has been such a rewarding and life-changing experience. At times it’s been scary but every second of fear has been worth it. Following my dreams hasn’t been easy but I’m so glad that I did. I’m a much different person now than I was in January and I will go back to Michigan as a stronger and happier individual. I have finally figured out what it feels like to really live your life and I don’t think that I will be able to go back to my old life.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading! My family is arriving soon so I probably won’t update much until I am back in the U.S. I have a ton more adventures that I would like to share with you though!

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Au Revoir, Paris!

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hello, friends!

This is the third and final post about my weekend in Paris (part one, part two). I hope you all have enjoyed reading these! Paris is a magical place to visit and I feel lucky to have been able to travel there twice in my life already. It is a must see European destination in my opinion.

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Sunday started bright and early with packing up all of our belongings and storing it at the hostel. Then we moved on to a quick breakfast before taking the metro to the Catacombs. I am super afraid of dead people and have been this way for as long as I can remember. But studying abroad is all about overcoming your fears, right? So I joined my friends in this exciting adventure.

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

The line for the Catacombs took us over an hour and a half to get through. I would recommend to get there before it opens and snag a good spot in line. I had so much anxiety as I waited in line and once we finally entered and went underground I started to really freak out. It was super dark and creepy. In the beginning you are just wandering around tunnels and you have no idea when you are going to come across the burial chambers.

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Getting through the Catacombs took about an hour. I was careful to respect the bodies and paid my respects. I thought it was a pretty emotional experience to go through because you have no way of knowing who the people are and how they died. Their lives have been forgotten and their remains have been put on display for the world to see. However, it is a very historical experience and I understand the importance of the tour. Things were much different back then and the bones have been preserved underground.

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

After the Catacombs we made our way back to the Eiffel Tower to say goodbye. I have always loved the Eiffel Tower. Something about it just makes me really happy and I’m not sure why. Saying goodbye to it was sad because I don’t know if I will ever get to see it again.

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

We stopped for lunch and I once again had a crepe. This time I got a Nutella and banana crepe and it was incredibly delicious. Then we wandered around the Eiffel Tower and stopped at some shops before taking the Metro back to the hostel. From the hostel we took a bus to the train station and headed back to London. Getting through customs was a nightmare but other than that the journey was easy!

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions about traveling to Paris!

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Weekend in Paris // Study Abroad London // Regent's University // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Perfect Day in Paris

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hey guys!

If you read my last post you would know that I went to Paris a couple of weeks ago. The first day was amazing and it allowed me to mark “see the Eiffel Tower at night” off of my bucket list!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Day two began bright and early with breakfast at the hostel including French baguettes and Nutella. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower right as it was opening 9:30 a.m. to wait in line to go to the top. The only waited for about 30 minutes before we were allowed to take the lift to the top. You have to take two lifts to get to the very top of the tour but it is worth it for the views!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy and cold that morning but the views were still incredible! I am super afraid of heights so I was pretty dizzy and nauseous when we were at the top. I am so glad that I faced my fears head on! This study abroad experience has really made me realize how important it is to face your fears and follow your dreams. Every second of my study abroad adventure has been life-changing and wonderful. If you are thinking about studying abroad my advice is to just go and allow it to change your life!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

After the Eiffel Tower we took some pictures and then headed towards the Arc de Triumph. We saw the Arc the day before from the bus but we wanted to see it closer. We walked past some of the most expensive shops in Paris on the way and did a little window shopping.  We stopped for lunch at a café where I had a French baguette sandwich.

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Our walk continued towards Notre Dame. We stopped to see sights along the way including the famous “Love Lock” Bridge. I took a few minutes to write “Hayley & Brett” on the railing. I would love to go back and with Brett and put a lock on it. He has been so supportive throughout this whole trip and I’ve really missed him!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

We toured Notre Dame and even sat down to watch a service. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Even though the service was in French, I could still feel the emotion in the words. We followed everyone else by standing at the right times. It was truly an amazing and free experience!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Our next stop was Montmartre. Four years ago when we went to Paris one of our first stops was Montmartre. I remember touring the Basilica and wandering through the streets. I can still feel the excitement of getting to the end of a street and seeing the most beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower for the first time. My first view of the Eiffel Tower is such a vivid memory for me and I was hoping to recreate it this trip. But unfortunately, there was a bunch of construction that was blocking the view.

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

We ate at a little café where I had a Nutella crepe. They had a man playing the guitar and singing which made for the perfect French atmosphere. I really love Montmartre and I hope that someday I will be able to go back! After dinner we headed back to the hostel to sleep. The plan for Sunday was to wake up bright and early to visit the Catacombs!

The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com

Thanks for reading, friends!

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The Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.comThe Perfect Day in Paris // Study Abroad // London // www.lifeofhayley.com