On February 3, the adventure that I have been waiting to take part in since I was eight years old will finally begin. I will be studying abroad in Europe and more specifically at Loughborough University in England where I will continue my studies as an English major. I have never actually been to the United Kingdom or Europe before, but I am very excited to begin a new chapter in my college career.
I’m so ecstatic to be continuing my education in the country that so much great literature has come from and where so many great authors have originated (maybe I’ll get to finally meet J.K. Rowling, who knows) as well as many popular musicians. I do plan on crashing the Royal Wedding, but before I do, I wanted to write down these 11 reminders to keep while I am gone on my 5-month adventure.
1. Have fun!
Having fun has to be the first reminder because this is first and foremost a chance to travel and explore so much of what you have never seen before. So many famous landmarks, so many popular monuments, and so many more awesome people are waiting for you. Even though you will obviously be studying (you'll have to keep reminding mom and dad that you are), this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for an adventure that you'll never get the chance to have again, so have all the fun in the world.
2. Spend wisely.
You are going to be without a job in a world of endless chances for exploration for 5 months, so you really cannot afford to spend like you do now. Save your money for the real things you want and they do not have to all be material, either. Take that train to Italy or buy that ticket for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child instead of buying that same coffee from Starbucks because you do not need it. Trust me. Plus, your mom can get it for you when she visits. You're going to be here for 5 months and you need to stretch out your money as much as possible.
3. Try different foods and different drinks.
Because you are in a place that you are not familiar with, you need to branch out from your usual culinary preferences and try new cuisines. With over a hundred different cultural influences, you can try Salmiakki (salt licorice) or Francesihna (meat and beer sandwich) or Breast Milk Ice Cream (yes, it's actually real) or even Escargot. Or, if the dishes are too weird or seem too gross, you can always add a foreign flourish to a dish you know that you'll enjoy. Well, hopefully.
4. Explore the town you'll be living in.
Since you will be studying abroad in Europe, it is easy to just want to travel to London and Rome and Paris, but do not forget to first explore where it is you will actually be spending most of your time. Loughborough, England boasts over 5 museums that are dedicated to memorials for the two world wars and the arts. This town also includes a small cinema and tons of restaurants that most likely do not exist where you are from. Just take a walk someday in the town and you might be surprised at the adventure that you'll surely have in this small English city. Tons of people can say they have been to London, but can they all say they've been to Loughborough?
5. And explore all of Europe, too.
But don't forget to also jet off to Rome or take a train to Paris or Amsterdam. Hell, go to Munich and Berlin, too. Since you'll be in England for 5 months, you have the entire European continent as your playground. Plus, you've taken two European history classes so go test out your knowledge in Greece, in Belgium, and in Switzerland. Fly to Spain, ferry over to Ireland, get on the rail to Luxembourg, take the quick train ride to London, too! Explore as much as you can because you will not get a good chance like this again.
6. Make friends with the locals.
Be sure to make friends with the people who actually call England their home country because these people are the ones who know all the cool secrets about the place you're living in and all the secrets about the places you want to go to, too. They can show you all of the awesome pubs and teach you how to spend with their currency. Also, they will most likely have accents, so do I really need to list more reasons why you need to make friends with them?
7. And make friends with the other international students, too.
You and the other international students will have similar experiences since you are all in a foreign place that you are not familiar with, so why not try to be friends with them as well? Try all of these new things together and it will be less scary. Encounter strange places with each other and they will be less daunting. These are the people who you will go with to Disneyland Paris or to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour or to the Czech Republic. These are also the people who you will stay in contact with when you return home after the 5 months are up.
8. Do not forget to talk to everyone back home.
Even though you'll be busy going to new places and trying out new things and meeting so many new people, do not forget to keep in contact with your family and friends back home. Tell your family that you miss them. Tell all of your friends that you miss them, too because you know that none of your new friends will replace them. And make sure you tell both your family and friends that you love them when you fill them in on what's been happening abroad.
9. Do something out of the ordinary.
You're not at the same school nor are you in the same country as you were before so do something extraordinary and not something you'd normally do at home. Go swim with orcas off the coast of Norway. Go hike to the top of Mount Olympus. Get a tattoo. Do something that is normally illegal in the U.S., but not in Europe. Actually crash the Royal Wedding. Do any one of these or do all of them, but just do something that you would never do back home.
10. Absorb some culture.
Whether you pick up on the English accent, become more familiar with English and European history, or just know how to prepare a popular dish from the place make sure to come back home with some culture. Pick up on the notable phrases that are casually tossed around in Europe. Become an encyclopedia on every medium of art that comes from the Old Continent. Gain some knowledge on the aggressive attraction that is garnered by the football (soccer) games there and become a fan yourself. Begin rejecting American English standards by adding the 'u' to 'colour' and 'favour' or by replacing the 'z' in 'recognize' and 'realize' with the letter 's'. Absorb as much culture as you can.
11. Make sure to study.
Do not forget that you are going to England to STUDY abroad. You are here to further complete your studies as an English major and to help finish your college degree. You are still responsible for passing all of your classes abroad because the grade you make here will still follow you when you go back to Oklahoma State University. The added bonus is just that you get to study in a new country. Make sure to stay on top of your assignments and readings. And remember that if you have any trouble in your classes to talk to your teachers.
What else can I say besides you're going to do great over there and you're going to have so much fun!