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.
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)!
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.
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.
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?