Studying Abroad In London As An American Student

I Studied Abroad In London, And The Lessons I Learned Were From The Heart

It's a city that I will definitely return to as it's a new home to me because home is where the heart is and London for sure has a portion of it.


Traveling to a new country can be an exciting yet scary experience. I just went abroad for the first time to London to study dance which isn't what some hardcore travelers consider "abroad" but to me, it was a new adventure.

Before I left, I had made your standard All-American-Girl-Goes-To-London Bucket List:

1) Buckingham

2) Fish and Chips

3) Tower of London/London Bridge

4) Drink in pubs

5) Find my prince

Spoiler Alert: everything was checked off from that list.

It didn't really hit me that I was in another country that first week... it felt as if I was in another big city like New York City or Washington D.C. The tube didn't really phase me due to my experience with the subway and the Metro. The only really ~foreign~ things about being in London were the time difference, the crazy traffic patterns, and the cars being on the wrong side (and they ARE on the wrong side... no offense, England).

The second week, it felt a little bit more real as I was able to go do more touristy things besides just taking my classes. I was becoming more comfortable around the different areas and adapting to the social norms. It helped that England was doing well in the World Cup so everyone was out at pubs and watching the games.

Fast forward to the third week. By this time, I felt too at home. The tube? Navigated. Pubs? We were regulars at the one near the dorm we were staying at. Night Life? Never have I seen a group of girls dominate a club like we did at Roxy. Iced Coffee? Still not a thing in England (seriously guys... you simply put ice in your coffee. There's no catch. It's not rocket science.) Bucket List? Four out of five items were checked off by the start of the third week. I had lost weight and honestly, I think I peaked a little. Basically, I was finessing this city.

This trip taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do thanks to the "study" part of being abroad. It also made me realize what a true friend is and that professors are humans too (shocking, I know). It showed me that I am more than capable of being in a different country and getting around all by myself.

But while London gave me so much, it came with a price. "She giveth and she taketh" or something like that. As cheesy as it sounds, London took a piece of my heart and it wasn't until the end of the last week that I realized it was happening. I'll be honest, at first, I knew that while London was a great city, America has my whole heart and though the memories would be great, I wouldn't be crying at the end of the trip.

Boy, was I wrong.

I didn't realize how much this city captured my time and heart and let's just say I was a snotty mess on the plane home (my apologies to my fellow passengers). I will forever cherish the people I met, the places I've been and things that I learned in London. It's a city that I will definitely return to as it's a new home to me because home is where the heart is and London for sure has a portion of it.

Cover Image Credit:

Madelene Whitfield

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Think Before You Click

The trap of social affirmation and our actual selves.

Social media plays a huge part in each of our daily lives.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, you name it; they are ubiquitous across the world. From Barcelona to Bombay, anyone with a smartphone has an account on one (or more) of the above. And they’re great tools for connecting with people and for sharing thoughts, ideas, and pictures.

The problem with social media is that it can all too easily consume you. That may be putting it a little dramatically, but what I’m trying to say is problems arise when the goal, or purpose, of experiencing life becomes sharing, tweeting or posting.

Let me give you an example. I have a friend who recently traveled all throughout Europe. Wherever he went, from Paris to Austria, he Instagrammed his journey. It was great being able to follow him and share in his experiences. It was cool to see the monuments and attractions from just one degree of separation. But what wasn’t cool was what he told me during one of our Skype conversations when I asked him how he managed to post so much: “Yeah man, I always try to duck into a McDonalds somewhere to get some Wi-Fi ya know. And you got to find a hotel with it too, cant live without the net bro."

I mean, really? Here he was, traveling to some of the most beautiful parts of the world, having adventures most people will only experience once, if ever, in their lifetimes, and he was worried about Wi-Fi and checking his like count? I was appalled.

Now, I know this is an extreme example, but it got me thinking. How much of what I do online, what I post, what I share, is actually the real me? We all have that other side, the social media persona who only eats the greatest food, sees the coolest sights, and has the best of times. Online Abhi doesn’t struggle with missing his family, he doesn’t workout for hours to burn that terrific meal he just ate, he doesn’t get stressed about impending due dates or deadlines. He just always seems… well, perfect. But that’s not me, and if you were to just look at my online presence it would be quite a skewed image of the man I truly am.

This isn’t an attack on social media. It’s just... a thought. Why don’t we all, or at least most of us, take less time to think about what we can share and rather focus on going out, doing and enjoying things. When you’re truly having fun your mind is far from any thoughts of likes or comments. The "old" saying rings true -- if you have time to post about something while you’re in the middle of it, there’s no way that thing was really that special.

So next time you post something, just think, is it for some type of social affirmation or truly because you have something to offer the world? Let the answer guide your click.

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.


If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.

1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.

I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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