Hello friends – long time no chat! I know I haven’t been very active in the “blogosphere”, but that’s because I am studying abroad and have been adjusting to life here in England. After doing an Instagram poll earlier in the week, I’ve decided to put up a little study abroad update to let you all know how I’m doing!
Arriving in England/Exploring London
I’m not going to say that this trip has been all butterflies and rainbows, but I will say that the hardest part was probably leaving home! This study abroad adventure is my first time away from New Jersey for a prolonged period of time, so it was really hard saying goodbye to my family and to Michael. Thankfully, my Dad flew over here with me for the first week, which helped with the homesickness immensely.
On our first full day here in England, we set out with some family from the area to explore the “touristy” parts of London! My aunt booked us a hop-on-hop-off bus tour as well as a ferry ride down the Thames, and it helped to give us a really nice overview of the city. We visited King’s Cross Station, Trafalgar Square, The London Eye, Big Ben/The Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London all in one day.
Even though this was my first time in London, visiting a big city made me feel right at home. There’s something about the pace of cities that I really love, and it’s also comforting to know that people are always on the move no matter where you are in the world. It was really exciting to be in such a historic & iconic city, and I’ve already made a list of things I want to see when I go back!
Arriving at School & Moving In
After our full day in London, my dad and I took a three hour train to Sheffield, where I am studying! I’ve since learned that Sheffield is considered “northern”, and there is definitely a recognizable change in pace & architecture as a result. There’s no denying that Sheffield is a city, but at the same time it feels a little more quaint & quintessentially British than the hustle & bustle of London.
I spent my first few days in orientation, where I got a better feel for the city and the school itself. The craziest thing to me was seeing how many people were here – I’ve met students from all over the world! It’s been so much fun hearing about everyone’s cultures back in their home countries. Now, I really want to become fluent in another language, and I feel super inspired to travel to as many places as possible during my time abroad.
Following orientation, my dad helped me to shop for my new flat, where I live with four other international students. I have my very own room & bathroom, which is something I was super excited about upon arrival. It’s really cool to have your own space to come back to every day!
Starting Classes & Culture Shock
My first day of classes was on Monday, and I was surprised at how different the class structure is here compared to home. Chances to boost your grade are basically nonexistent, because you’re assessed on one exam or two projects, but at the same time all of the lecturers seem really passionate about what they teach & your success in the class. These changes are sort of terrifying, but at the same time it’s a cool change to experience. I’m just sort of nervous to see how I do in the classes themselves.
In terms of culture shock, the one of the biggest adjustments for me was definitely colloquial sayings/names for things. Using “Cheers” in place of thank-you might not seem like a big deal, but at least once a day I still find myself struggling to translate my “American” English to “British”. For example, I was ordering at Nando’s one day and asked for a “fountain drink” instead of a “soft drink” and the guy looked at me like I had five heads!
Also, Caitlyn talked about currency being a culture shock for her, and I 100% agree! I’m constantly rummaging around trying to find the proper change, and people immediately know I’m not from the UK. I think I am slowly getting the hang of it, but it’s been a mega-struggle for sure.
Finally, I’m a lot more homesick than I expected to be. When I was preparing for this trip, my focus was so heavily aligned towards organizing that I never really thought about the emotions I’d be feeling here, so coping has been difficult. I’m thankful that I’ve met good people here, but every day I see something that makes me wish my family or Michael were here with me. I try to keep in contact with home as much as I can, and looking forward to my family’s visit helps a lot!
Hopes for the Future
All culture shock aside, I love Sheffield, and every day I feel great about my choice to come here. I really hope I can pull myself together enough to plan some day trips soon, so that I can explore England a little more. I want to go see Oxford, The Cliffs of Dover, the Lake District, and Scotland! After this intro week is over & I feel a little more settled, I’m going to go into hardcore-planning-mode, and I can’t wait.
I also hope that I continue to journal while I’m here – my mom got me a gratitude journal for my trip, and that’s been a really great coping mechanism for me in addition to daily journaling. It keeps things in perspective and makes me think about how amazing it is to be here!
Anyway, that is basically my experience thus far in a nutshell! I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be posting on here while I’m figuring out how to juggle the schoolwork, but you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more frequent updates on my life out here.
Do you want me to make these posts more regularly? Are you thinking of studying abroad soon?