Today’s post comes from UC Berkeley student Loyalty Traster-Lee, who spent her Freshman fall semester in London. Loyalty discusses the trials and triumphs of living independently and the unforgettable memories that come with spending a semester abroad.
There were a lot of “firsts” for me going to London. My first semester of college. My first time in England. My first time living away from home, learning how to grocery shop, reserve flights, and more by myself.
I decided to participate in the UC Berkeley Global Edge study abroad program for two reasons: first, I will never, ever, say “no” to an adventure, and sending a handful of eighteen-year-olds across the Pond definitely counts as an adventure. Second, I wanted to test myself. I was fairly nervous about successfully navigating my college career and new adult life – but if I could not only survive, but thrive on this study abroad program, then I could certainly make it through anything else life threw my way.
And I did thrive, though I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns — the two biggest problems I noticed among my peers, and that I experienced myself, were strained relationships and difficulty with time management.
Living together in such close proximity, even with people who have the best intentions, is enough to make anyone frustrated after a few months. I found that making a point to independently explore London, following suggestions from the ACCENT London staff, helped give me the alone time that I, an introvert, needed. Attending service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and watching fireworks from Millennium Bridge were two highlights of my solo excursions.
Another issue that cropped up was only having 24 hours in a day, and having to constantly choose between doing something fun and exciting in the city, or sitting down and actually putting the “study” in “study abroad.” To remedy this situation, I often completed assignments outside my flat. ACCENT has a lovely study room, with comfy couches and computers available for use, and I also frequented the British Library and the Wellcome Collection.
And, to be perfectly blunt, friend drama and procrastination will make an appearance in every college student’s life – but the opportunity to, as an eighteen-year-old American, live in London for an entire semester? To waltz into the National Gallery after classes, and view Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in person? To see the British Library’s 20th anniversary Harry Potter exhibit? To celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with all of your friends? These experiences are truly unique.
The Global Edge Study Abroad Program with UCB and ACCENT is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m so glad I was able to participate.
~Loyalty Traster-Lee, UC Berkeley Global Edge
Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.