“What are you going to be doing while you’re abroad?”
For the past couple months, my only response to this question has been something like “just taking some classes for my major and hopefully traveling some.” Well — newsflash to myself — that’s kind of the definition of study abroad, so I haven’t really been telling anyone anything.
To be honest, I’ve been caught up in the details of this pre-departure process (making packing lists, getting a visa, all that junk) and haven’t stepped back to consider the big picture of the journey I’m about to go on.
It’s about time I do just that. After reading a ton of other study abroad blogs and scrolling through dozens of Instagram profiles, I’ve put together this list of the Top 5 things I want accomplish while abroad.
1. See as many sights as possible
There are a whole bunch of incredible landmarks, museums, and cultural attractions across Europe, and you’d better believe that I’m going to try and bite off more than I can chew.
A few specific things I would love to experience are:
- The Northern Lights up in Scandinavia
- The Greek Islands (because duh, that white and blue Insta theme)
- The Yorkshire moors
- The Italian Riviera (what, can’t a guy enjoy luxury)
2. Immerse in the British culture
“They speak English in the UK, so it won’t be that different, right?”
From what I’ve heard and read, that’s absolutely wrong. England seems to be a more formal (and definitely fashion-forward) culture, and its higher education system is pretty different than here in the U.S.
On top of that, it only took a couple minutes of reading through my Leeds Welcome packet to realize that a lot of words here don’t mean the same thing there.
- I’m enrolled in four “modules,” not courses or classes.
- Resident Assistants are called “Wardens” which somewhat sounds like I’ll be living in a prison
- A “surgery session” isn’t anything medical, it’s just drop-in office hours (that one took a google)
3. Get some experience in journalism
Obviously, I’m out here writing a blog, but a big goal of mine is to get involved with student media over at University of Leeds.
From what I’ve seen, the student newspaper The Gryphon is pretty well established, so with luck I can find something to do there. Here’s a link to its website if you want to check out how the British approach student media.
4. Work on my independence
Okay, I promise I won’t overshare on this one.
I’m going to be living on my own for four and a half months in a different country. I know I’ll have to face some problems (hopefully more of the “I’m lost” kind and less of the “someone just stole my passport” ones).
My goal is be able to use my personal strengths to meet and overcome those challenges. As someone who is still reluctant to make official phone calls (why can’t I just move my doctor’s appointment online), and doesn’t enjoy not having control of my situation, I know this could be a rough ride. But I’m fine with that. That what study abroad is about.
5. Make good friends and even better memories
Yeah, this last one is kind of cheesy, but I’m an outgoing person and having a solid friend group is important to me.
I signed up to go to Leeds without knowing if anyone else from USC was signed up. Since then, I have briefly met the other two Gamecocks crossing the pond with me, but I’m still essentially doing this whole thing solo.
But hey, this is real life. You don’t always have the luxury of knowing people wherever you go. You’ve got to buckle down, get out there, and put some effort into making life what you want it to be — and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Follow along with my journey by following the blog or reaching out to me personally. I’m super excited about what’s to come and can’t wait to share it all with y’all!