It was like the summer before college again: choosing a dorm in which to spend what would surely be the best semester of my education.
I remember comparing and contrasting every detail of every hall. Shared bathrooms? No thank you. Shared kitchens? Yes please. I’ll admit it, I made pro and con lists and a studied a few charts. I even researched the areas around each building. Which had the best nightlife? Cheapest shopping? Easiest access from the Tube? I considered this among the most important decisions I would make before my study abroad experience. It would determine who I met, how early I had to get up before class, and my social life all together.
Truth is, it didn’t matter that much. I had picked Marlybone as my first choice, right in central London, newly refurbished and near a large shopping area. Instead I ended up in Alexander Fleming and I couldn’t be happier. Even though I have my own room, I am still close with my flat mates—something the other hall wouldn’t have been able to offer. Fleming is situated in Shoreditch, an area known for its nightlife and hip residents. Instead of shopping and going to trendy clubs all the time, I also see underground punk shows and stroll through weekend markets. Either place would have been a great fit for me, but in Shoreditch I have a completely different experience.
A lot of students from my home university live in Marlybone and looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t placed there. Studying abroad in London
has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and make friends with other people. My close friends here attend schools across the US and most of my flat mates are international students. Because I was placed in my second choice hall, I was forced to make myself comfortable in a different place, talking to new people and adjusting to an unfamiliar area. I’ve gotten to know a different side of London that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have spent much time in.
While choosing a hall seems like a huge decision, it doesn’t matter much in the long run if you’re willing to branch out and explore. For instance, though I got my second choice, I couldn’t be happier. My expectations did not meet the out come, but it turned out for the better. An open mind is crucial when considering housing options. Your first choice isn’t guaranteed, but that could be a good thing. The best experiences are usually unexpected.
Katie Buckleitner-- CEA London MoJo
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