6 Things You Learn During Your First Week Abroad

6 Things You Learn During Your First Week Abroad

There's no place like home, but home is what (and where) you make it.

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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10 Things You Know To Be True If You Live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

"Take the B", they said.

For anyone that is currently living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and or has lived there, you know it's an *interesting* experience. From the various food joints, to the movie theater, everyone's love/hate relationship with Crazy George, Emmons Avenue, the B/Q trains, the new apartment complex that some people love and others completely despise, and everything in-between, there's no other neighborhood that's just like Sheepshead. You know you're from Sheepshead when:

1. You've either spotted Crazy George somewhere out on the streets or in a random location (usually in Dunkin' Donuts).

Don't get me wrong — it's not funny that he appears to have problems, but it's also not ideal that he goes into various stores harassing the workers. He's a one of a kind human being and I do wish the best for him and/or that he does get some help.

2. When it comes to Brennan and Carr and Roll n Roaster, you either love one of them much more than the other.

As much as I love Brennan and Carr's Gargiulo burger, I'm more of a Roll n Roaster person. Their personal pizza is nice and their fries are to die for -- and yes, I want cheese on that, please.

3. You either love or hate that new apartment complex that's in the works.

You know, this one at 1501 Voorhies Ave.

4. You've become used to the B and Q trains either being delayed, messed up, crowded, and or nonexistent.

"Take the B they said. It's express they said." If I told you how many times the B has gone local, out of service, and or on fire in Brooklyn, then maybe you'd hate it just as much as I do at times. Don't even get me started about how crowded it is - especially during rush hour.

"What about the Q train?" The Q's not much better. It has its times where it goes express in Brooklyn as opposed to local, which doesn't help if you're getting on/off at Neck Road or Avenue U.

5. You either go to UA Sheepshead, another movie theater or don't even bother with movie theaters.

Although going to UA Sheepshead is convenient, their prices are very special for just an average movie theater.

6. You either stick to shopping and dining along Sheepshead Bay Road and or Emmons Avenue or go elsewhere either in the neighborhood, other neighborhoods, or to the city.

While they're both convenient parts of Sheepshead Bay, there are other parts of the neighborhood to go to, such as Nostrand Ave. Sometimes, it's easier to flock to other parts of Brooklyn, but there are times where going to the city is worth the commute.

7. You either shop at Cherry Hill or avoid it completely.

While there are other supermarkets in the neighborhood, Cherry Hill is the only one on Emmons that is open 24/7. Their prices might be high for the neighborhood, but their prices could be much worse.

8. You remember when Sheepshead Bay High School was one school...

...and not an educational complex.

9. You're still low-key bothered about how the neighborhood recovered after Sandy.

I'm not going to say that it was the same after the hurricane. Although it didn't take the longest time to recover, that doesn't mean that damage wasn't done.

10. But regardless of how you may feel, by the end of the day, you're probably still super in love with the neighborhood.

It's an incredibly unique neighborhood. You can take someone out of Sheepshead but you can't take the Sheepshead out of someone.

Cover Image Credit: Curbed NY

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Stop Trying To Make Life So Black And White

Consider that you being right doesn't make someone else wrong by default—and vice versa.


Life isn't black and white.

Perhaps that sounds like an obvious statement, but nonetheless, it still needs to be said.

Furthermore, life isn't just one giant grey area—it's several shades. There are so many twists and turns, so many unknowns and layers, that it's impossible for something to be 100 percent one way or the other.

At least, that's how my mind works.

It's difficult for me to stand stubbornly behind my own viewpoints without first listening to someone else's. For me, looking at things from their perspective is second nature. I could be spitting angry at someone, but I can't walk away from them because their perspective is glaring me in the face.

"Yes, what they did was wrong, but I get why they did it," is a line often uttered. This stance, of course, has its drawbacks. It has kept me in toxic situations far longer than it should have. It has allowed all sorts of people to walk over me like a common doormat. It has built up resentment in me for not having my efforts reciprocated.

It has also opened my eyes.

Democrat, Republican, Christian, Atheist, Religious, or Non-Secular—let's find common ground. Let's understand each other because, at the end of the day, we're all human. We all want to be loved and understood.

Maybe the first step is hearing each other. No, I don't mean listening until you can rebut, I mean really hear them. We all have our worldviews for a reason.

Why do you think the way you do? Probably because of how you were raised. Probably because experiences molded your mind and opinions.

We all have different walks of life. We each grew up differently than the other, so it's only natural that we should view the world through different lenses than our neighbor.

Next time, before you pass judgment on another person, consider the fact that maybe they aren't wrong. Also, consider that you being right doesn't make them wrong by default—and vice versa. Life is too layered for us to be right or wrong. Two people can be saying different things and both provide valid points.

Life isn't black and white, it's high time we stopped trying to make it that way. Besides, a picture is infinitely more interesting when it's shaded in and has more variety.

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