I have officially been in England for one week, four days, and two hours, and it's all be chaos. I have eleven more weeks, but I don't think I really understood the meaning of 'study abroad' until this past weekend, when I finally had some time to digest. Yes, I may be halfway across the planet, but so far it's really not that different from my freshman year.
1. It's just as awkward as your first year.
Those awkward conversations with strangers? Turns out they're the same, regardless of the language barrier. Figuring out the shower situation with your roommates can still be frustrating, and a shared kitchen space is just as chaotic (and sometimes just as gross) as it is back at home.
2. You will get lost.
Because my campus in England is considerably smaller than my home campus, I thought I would learn my way around much faster. I was so wrong. This morning I spent about five minutes sitting in the wrong lecture hall, before realizing that I am not studying pharmacy. Just my luck: the only door to the classroom was located directly next to the professor's podium. Laughter in an English accent is just as embarrassing as laughter in a southern accent.
3. You will miss your school back home.
I love studying abroad, I really do. But sometimes I also miss home, where my friends are, where I know my way around, and where there are warm, gooey Lenoir cookies. With that said, there are also new friends, you will learn your way around, and there are cookies in every country on Earth. I promise.
4. You will not be prepared to study.
Going abroad is typically a vacation, and getting out of this mentality is difficult. I had notebooks, pencils, and my laptop was charged, but until I sat down in my first lecture hall I didn't fully comprehend that I'm here to study. Travel and experience the world, but don't forget to make a little time for that philosophy reading.
5. The weather may confuse you.
I am studying abroad in England. I was prepared for rain. So far, there have been exactly 2 rainy days while I've been here, and it's been warm until sunset every day. That's not to say it won't be cold and rainy in the future, but I'm definitely glad that I brought my basic t-shirts and jeans, not just long sleeves and rain boots. Pro tip: don't forget to also plan for trips! If I go to Italy, I'll definitely be glad to have my sundress and sandals, and in Iceland I'm sure I'll want my sweater and scarves.
6. You'll need to treat yourself.
I know that I am surrounded by glorious, rich, delicous coffee, but after a particularly homesick day last week, I really only wanted a Starbucks mocha frappucino. So I got one. Don't be afraid to treat yourself to something that feels like home, even if it seems frivolous. Studying abroad thrusts you into an entirely new environment, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something to make it feel like home.
Studying abroad is a huge, exciting, scary adventure. Sometimes you'll feel like you're in a different universe, and sometimes it'll feel just like your first year, but regardless, it'll eventually become home. Keep in mind that two (or ten) awkward experiences aren't the end of the world, and regardless of the language difference, every college student feels a little homesick. Even if that home is halfway across the planet.