I think it's safe to say that my study abroad program in London has completely changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. In these three months, I've gotten the chance to speak with people from countries all across Europe and Asia, and got the chance to visit and experience cultures vastly different from my own. This theme of unfamiliarity became the perfect backdrop on which to analyze myself and learn things I have previously overlooked while in the comfort of my home culture. Here are a few things I've learned from this incredible experience:
People aren't that different.
I didn't really know what to expect before studying abroad in London. I knew Europeans were human, but how much would I be able to relate to them? What are their hobbies, what do they do for fun? Well, when it really comes down to it, we're all completely the same. The college kids over here are just as likely to go to clubs, listen to music, watch sports, eat food, travel. Other than the different languages, I found it hard to differentiate between cultures, because after awhile, I just saw everyone as a fellow young person navigating their life in the world. It was a bit refreshing, and really allowed me to easily connect with other cultures.
Try new foods whenever possible.
I've always been a big fan of good food, and have made it a point to try anything new that comes my way. I had taken this mindset going into my study abroad experience, and man was I glad I did. I was constantly surrounded by great foods from every culture I could possibly imagine, and couldn't get enough of it. By opening myself up to these new foods, I have greatly broadened my tastes and have gained an even hungrier desire to try new things.
|A big pan of seafood paella at Borough Market. Yum!|
Socializing isn't nearly as scary as it seems.
Those of us whose personality leans toward introversion may find the concept of studying abroad terrifying-myself included. It turns out, forcing myself into this situation was the best way to face this fear and make new friends. Many of the Europeans I've met have been very welcoming and eager to have a conversation with you. I remember going on a pub crawl in Edinburgh with people from my hostel, and was immediately roped into a conversation by some friendly Greeks. That night became one of my fondest memories abroad.
|A friend and I visit "Winter Wonderland" in Hyde Park|
The world is a beautiful place, and it needs to be explored.
Above everything, this trip has instilled a sense of adventure in me, the "travel bug," if you will. With each city, museum, pub, cafe, restaurant I visited, I gained more of a sense of how much I enjoyed exploring what the other side of the world has to show me. It really made me realize how many different ways humanity has taken the idea of a civilization and translated it into their own culture. Even the design of cities intrigued me. I was taken aback by the beauty of Amsterdam, after walking through its canal-lined neighborhoods. Or in Edinburgh, after an hour long hike up a hill, I was rewarded with breath-taking views atop Arthur's seat. Point being: the world has a lot of things to see, and you can't see it without removing yourself from the comfort of your home.
|The sun sets on a canal in Amsterdam|
|A great view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat|
James L. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in London, England. He is currently a senior studying Business Management at West Chester University of Pennsylvania
James Longenderfer is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in London, England, and is currently studying at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.