6 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

January 24th, 2015 was one of the scariest days of my life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew that I had to go. I can’t even explain it but I had this feeling that I was meant to live in London. I’m the type of person who hates change so moving to London was very out of character for me but with every fiber of my being I knew it was the right decision.

In 2019 I wrote a reflection of 4 years after studying abroad and it’s interesting to see how some of my feelings have changed or strengthened since then.

It all started in 2011 when I went on a high school band trip where we traveled to 7 countries in Europe. Our first destination was London and from the moment I stepped off the plane I knew I’d be back. We were only there for a couple of days but I fell in love. After that I said that I’d be studying abroad in London for a semester in college. I didn’t know how but I was determined to make it happen.

Studying abroad is pretty common in college. I went to all the study abroad fairs, talked to my advisors, and worked many hours in order to save enough money to make it possible. I applied for scholarships and worked hard to make my dream a reality. I will always be a huge advocate for studying abroad in college. Here’s a list of reasons why I think studying abroad is important.

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

At the time, studying abroad felt selfish. I was going to a great university in Michigan so there was no real reason for me to seek education elsewhere. I had a good job that I’d need to give my notice to. I had an amazing boyfriend that I’d need to leave behind for a few months. All of these reasons almost made me give up my dream.

Studying abroad was selfish but in the best way possible. For the first time since I was 16 I wasn’t working. I was able to make friends and spend a huge amount of time with them. I was never able to do that in Michigan. I was able to take trips on the weekend without worrying about finding someone to cover my shifts at work. And my boyfriend? He was fully supportive of my decision. It wasn’t easy to spend so many months living apart but it all worked out in the end (spoiler: he proposed when he visited me in London)!

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

It also wasn’t easy. I wrote this post about being homesick after a really tough day in London where I’d almost missed a school trip and was so afraid to call and tell my mom because I felt like I had failed. Being away from Brett was hard too and I wasn’t sure if our relationship would survive. We talked as much as we could but there was a big time difference. I missed my family and friends back home and it was hard to miss birthdays and gatherings.

I remember being so scared that I’d travel all the way to London just to be alone. I didn’t really have any college friends back home and it was lonely. I had almost convinced myself that it would be the same in London and that I just shouldn’t go. But I faced that fear and I made the most incredible friends along the way. We still have a group WhatsApp chat and even had a Zoom call recently to catch up. I also met my friend, Anna Sophie, in Oregon in 2019!

Even though it wasn’t easy, I would do it all again if I could because for those few months I finally lived. Like really and truly lived.

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

I can’t say for sure that studying abroad is the right decision for everyone but it was the best decision for me. I hate change and I’m a homebody but I’ll forever feel like part of my heart is in London. Brett and I spent our honeymoon in London in 2017 and we both felt like we were coming home. We had a big Europe trip planned for 2020 and the first stop was supposed to be London. One day we will be back.

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

I am in awe of the person I was 6 years ago. I’m so incredibly proud of myself for taking that leap of faith that turned into some of my favorite memories. I have never been as happy as I was when I was studying abroad. I made these amazing friends and traveled all over. I learned to be independent and confident in myself. I wish I could figure out how to make big life changes like this again but I’m not as brave as I used to be.

Remembering who I was 6 years ago is giving me the inspiration to think about some of the changes I need to make in my life now. I need to be brave again and figure out how to put myself first and be “selfish”.

Did you study abroad in college? Would you ever consider moving to another country?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

Scotland Part 3: Loch Ness

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hi there, friends!

I am finally back from my amazing trip to Germany!! I had the best time and can’t wait to share my adventures with you. But for now, here’s the third and final installment of my trip to Scotland! (part one and part two)

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Sunday began bright and early with breakfast at the hostel and packing. We left right around 8:30 am for Culloden Battlefield which was really close by. We made a few stops along the way for pictures by Loch Nest.  Loch Ness is huge and beautiful and I wish that we would have had a little more time to explore it.

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

I was really interested in Culloden battlefield but unfortunately it started down pouring right after we got there and we weren’t really able to enjoy most of it. I don’t think I have ever been that soaked in my whole life! We wandered around the battlefield a bit and paid our respects to the soldiers that lost their lives and are buried in mass graves throughout the property.

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

After freezing to death in the pouring rain we returned to the bus and headed to lunch in Pitlochry. Diana accidentally spilled her coffee on me during the ride which helped warm me up a bit! 😉 After changing, we headed to a small bakery to grab lunch and then did some shopping.

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Our next stop was a forest called Hermitage. Birnam Wood in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” was inspired by this forest. We took a nice walk through the woods with waterfalls and the salmon leap.  It rained again so we walked quickly but I still really enjoyed the scenery.

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

After our walk we all piled back into the bus and headed back to Edinburgh to catch the train to London. I was extremely tired but still really sad that it was already time to go home. This trip went by so fast but I had an amazing time. I hope that one day I will be able to go back to Scotland!

Thanks again for reading! I am currently writing posts about Paris and Germany so stay tuned!

I also just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been reading, liking, and commenting! Your support means the world to me 🙂 

Scotland Trip // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

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Scotland Part 2: The Highlands

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hello, lovely readers! I think I have kept you waiting long enough for part 2 of my adventure through Scotland. We left off with me spending the night in Edinburgh.

The next morning we all had a quick breakfast at the hostel before boarding the bus and setting off at 8:30 for the Scottish Highlands. Ever since I visited Switzerland back in 2011 I have been in love with the mountains. They are just so big, beautiful, and mysterious. I love winding through them as we drive and staring out the window.

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com


We drove for about an hour before stopping at Stirling Castle for a short visit. We met another Scottish tour guide who led us around the castle telling us the history and facts. The tour guide had a really thick accent which made him hard to understand but I still enjoyed the tour.

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

While wandering around the castle my iPhone broke which made me really anxious. It did the thing where an “iPhone is not backed up” message pops up and won’t let you open your phone. Usually you can just restart your phone by pressing the circle and lock button. However, my lock button is broken so I had to wait until my phone died naturally and then hope that when I plugged it in to charge it would turn back on.



After the castle and iPhone incident we boarded the bus and continued on our journey. We stopped in Tyndrum for lunch where Dani, Diana, and I had a delicious meal of fish and chips. Yummmm….

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com


After lunch we headed to Glencoe for a quick picture stop. It was raining so many people decided to stay on the bus. I decided not to let a little rain put a damper on my weekend so I left the bus to explore in the downpour. Glencoe is absolutely beautiful. We only stopped for 15 minutes so I didn’t have enough time to explore properly but what I could see was amazing.

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com


After another hour and a half of driving we arrived in Fort Augustus near Loch Ness. Our first stop was the Clansman Centre where a man named Ken told us what it was like to live in the Highlands hundreds of years ago. I was really surprised to hear about the horrible conditions that those people had to live in. I guess I never really thought about what it would’ve been like to live in the mountains without technology, heat, and sanitation methods. After telling us the history of the highlands, Ken proceeded to dress one boy and one girl in traditional Highland gear. It was hilarious and very entertaining. If you are ever in the area I would suggest stopping and seeing a show.

Scotland Highlands // Study Abroad // www.lifeofhayley.com



Our next stop was the hostel that we were staying at for the night, Morag’s Lodge. We had a traditional Scottish dinner of chicken, haggis, potatoes, and vegetables with a creamy whiskey sauce. I’m really glad that I didn’t look up what haggis was until AFTER I had already eaten it. I think that when you visit a place you should always try the food even if you are positive that you won’t like it because it’s part of the experience. I enjoyed dinner a lot and felt really full for the rest of the night.


The hostel was such a fun place to be and we decided to stay in and enjoy it rather than explore the small town. The hostel had a bar where we hung out for the night. I’m not a big drinker so I mostly just watched people drink and laughed at them when they started dancing on tables. I had so much fun meeting new friends, talking, laughing, dancing, and staying up late. Eventually, we all went to our rooms to sleep because we had to be up at 7:30 the next morning!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the third and final installment of my trip to Scotland!

P.S. I am back from Paris and I leave for Germany on Sunday!


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Scotland Part 1: Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland // www.lifeofhayley.com

Hello again!

As promised, here is part 1 of my amazing adventure in Scotland! I went on a trip sponsored by Regent’s through Proscenium Tours. The trip included our train tickets to and from Edinburgh, a charter bus in Scotland, breakfast, 2 nights at hostels, a tour guide, and admission to all of the attractions that we went to.


The adventure started bright and early on Friday. I was smart and packed the night before so all I had to do was change into my pre-selected travel outfit and take my bags downstairs. I met a girl named Dani through Facebook and we decided to travel to Kings Cross together to catch the train to Edinburgh. On the short tube ride to Kings Cross we met another girl from Regent’s, Diana, and the three of us became fast friends. Before leaving Kings Cross we had to take a quick picture at Platform 9 ¾. OffToHogwarts

Off to Scotland!!

Off to Scotland!!

The train to Edinburgh was about 5 hours and actually went by pretty fast. Once in Edinburgh, all 39 of us from Regent’s stepped off the train and met our guide for the weekend, Graeme. He turned out to be the best tour guide. He had a strong Scottish accent and was sarcastic and hilarious as well as knowledgeable. Graeme took us to our hostel, SYHA Edinburgh Central, where we quickly dropped off our luggage before heading out for a walking tour of beautiful Edinburgh. Graeme showed us all of the sights as we walked down Royal Mile and taught us all of the history. We walked around for a couple of hours listening and learning as he spoke to us. I was surprised when he kept taking us to Harry Potter sights. 126 - Copy EdinburghCollage



I knew that the story of Harry Potter was “born” in Edinburgh but I never expected to see so many important Harry Potter sights. It was amazing. We saw the hotel where JKR wrote the last HP book, the Elephant House aka the “birthplace” of Harry Potter, Tom Riddle’s grave where JKR got Voldemort’s real name, the castle that Hogwarts was inspired by, and many sites from the HP films. Needless to say, I was in Harry Potter heaven and basically freaking out the whole trip. I’m a nerd.



We ended the tour at Edinburgh Castle. We didn’t go inside the castle because it wasn’t included in the price of the trip and it was already almost 6 pm so we wouldn’t have had much time before it closed. The view from the castle was amazing; you could see the whole city of Edinburgh.




After the tour ended we walked around the town and stopped by little shops here and there. I picked up two cashmere and wool scarves and a cute little stuffed sheep ornament. After walking around for a while we decided to search for a place to eat. We all agreed that we wanted to try something new that we wouldn’t usually eat. Therefore, we ate at a nice Indian Restaurant. Our waiter was really nice and patient with us. He suggested that I try the chicken korma since I HATE spicy food. Diana and Dani both ordered and once our food came we all tried each other’s choices. I was brave and tried the spicy dishes and ended up with watery eyes while Dani and Diana laughed at me. Ha-ha it was a fun night.



After we went back to the hostel and turned in early because we were leaving for the Highlands at 8:30 the next morning. It was a perfect and unforgettable first day in Scotland. I was amazed by the history and age of the city. The “new” part of Edinburgh is older than the United States!

Thanks again for reading! Has anyone else been to Edinburgh?

P.S. I leave for Paris in the morning!!!! I’m so excited 🙂

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Explore the Elements

Hello, friends!

This morning I was pleasantly surprised by being nominated by the lovely Louise from Captured to Share for a travel photography competition! Thanks again, Louise!

“Welcome to the Thomas Cook Explore the Elements photo blogging competition. It’s all about capturing and expressing the four elements through travel photography.

We’re looking for bloggers to publish photographs they’ve taken which best represent one of the four elements. All the categories are open to your interpretation, so you can be free to take a picture of anything you feel showcases your chosen element.

Once the competition has finished our panel of leading travel experts will come together to select the best photos. Each judge will preside over one category picking a winner from each before they collectively choose an overall winner.

The four individual category winners will receive a MacBook Air, a Fujifilm X-T1 camera, or an iPhone 6 with Bose noise cancelling headphones, depending on their personal choice. The overall winner will be awarded an amazing £5,000 travel fund. Keep up with the conversation using the official hashtag: #ExploreTheElements”

For all the competition details, click here.

Below are my four entries:

  1. Earth

Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness, physicality and gravity

Glencoe, Scotland

This photo was taken at Glencoe, Scotland. The day I took this it was raining hard and it seemed like it would be raining forever. I felt humbled to be in such a beautiful, inspiring place. These mountains are thousands of years old, they have survived all of the elements and changes that have taken place in their lifetime. They are stubborn and solid. You can always count on the mountains being there, they are stable in a world that is constantly changing.

  1. Water

Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism


Taken during a walk through the Hermitage in Scotland, also known as Birnam Wood in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This river winds through the woods and provides the peaceful sound of rushing water as you get lost in the nature. The fluid movement of the river contrasts against the dark woods around it.

  1. Fire

Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit


This picture was taken in Innsbruck, Austria near the site of the Olympic ski jump. In 2011, I traveled to Europe for the very first time and fell in love with traveling. For the first time in my life I felt like I was part of something bigger than me. This picture represents the fire that was created inside of me, motivating me to keep moving forward, to keep experiencing new things. I learned to be secure with myself and to accept the things that I can’t change.

  1. Air

Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom.


I took this during my first hot air balloon ride in my hometown, Kalamazoo, Michigan. We glided over the treetops, over the city, just letting the wind take us away. I felt safe and free, like no one could touch me. It was one of the most beautiful and perfect moments of my life. I wasn’t thinking about school or work, I wasn’t worrying about the time passing. I was just enjoying the moment, living my life exactly the way I wanted to. I learned so much about myself during my short hot air balloon journey and was a much stronger person when we landed.


Thanks for reading!

I nominate:



Travelling the Word Solo 

Flux + Flow 

Travel Defined


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