Traveling to England was always a dream of mine. I won’t lie, after reading and seeing all of the Harry Potter films. I knew that I wanted to go there. It was even a joke in my family that if I ever went to England I would stay there forever. Therefore I was determined to get there. Lucky enough for me, Salve Regina gave me the opportunity to live my dream. The second semester of my sophomore year I finally studied abroad in Twickenham, London, England.
I decided that St. Mary’s in Twickenham London was a perfect place for me to study abroad. I had looked at the area and it was ideal location. The school was only a thirty minute train ride to the center of London, and Twickenham it’s self was a very calm place to live. When I first signed up, I thought that I would want to live off campus, but that didn’t work out for me. Yet as fate always has it, it did work. I ended up living with this lovely lady named Katie and Mare, a girl my age from Philadelphia. That experience was better than anything I could have imagined, as it completely emerged me into the culture. I met Katie’s grandchildren, who were completely fascinated by my roommate and I, and about America. They especially loved when we received care packages, because they were able to try the American candy. After a while, we actually had to hide our candy due to the fact that one grandson literally became obsessed. We decided it was better to cut him off…
As for London, I would honestly recommend it to anyone. London, I think, is a perfect starter city for anyone who is a little weary of traveling. The people there are really nice, and beside the accent, there is no language barrier. I myself was a little nervous when I got off the plane, jet lag and emotional craziness, I still didn’t feel too out of place. Also, London was amazing place to explore. The trains were so easy to navigate, and all of the museums are free admission. That was probably one of the best aspects, because if I felt like going to the city, I would be able to explore museums. Most of the time they were so large that I would have to make multiple trips.
They always say that when you study abroad, that you learn something about yourself, and boy did I ever. The first thing that I learned was how independent I actually was. From walking off the plane by myself in a different county, to navigating the streets of London on my own. Before studying abroad, I honestly never would have thought that any of that would be possible. Another amazing life lesson that I learned was that friends will come to you. Thats something no one really tells you when you study abroad. I was terrified that when I arrived in Twickenham that I would have no friends, that perhaps I would be by myself the whole time. But that didn’t happen. And no worries folks, it won’t happen to you either. See, somehow your people will find you. And when they do, it will make you’re experience even that much better. And when people like that enter your life, and are a part of wonderful experiences, then they will be your friends forever.
Speaking of experiences, whenever I tell people that I studied abroad, they always ask what was one of the most memorable moments there, and that will be a question that is so common. But its one of the hardest to answer in my opinion. There are so many experiences that someone who studies abroad will have. And for me, it would be like asking me to pick my favorite, oh I don’t know, dessert or something. There are just too many possible choices that I have, and I can’t pick just one. Each hold a special place in my heart because they contributed so much to my overall time in England. So mentally start prepping for the wonderful memories you have.
Now, I want to be a history teacher. And that was part of the reason I had to go my sophomore year, rather than my junior year. I would have been missing too many of my education classes, so while I was there I began to load up on my history and religion courses. At first I just thought that these courses would fill the requirement that I needed for Salve, but they did so much more than that. One of the classes that I took was an American history class, and it was funny because everyone questioned me why I was doing it. It finally clicked with me a few weeks before heading over. I wanted to see the different perspective of how European countries view America, because when I became a history teacher I would be able to relate that to my students. And right when I began teaching American history in my senior year, the class paid off. I was able to teach a world view in my American history class, because of the knowledge and understanding that I had gained from that one course studying abroad.
Ever since touching back on American soil, I have been trying to figure out how the heck I am going to get back to Europe and the United Kingdom. My wanderlust has grown so much over the years, and while I want to travel, the finances just aren’t there. But I am constantly looking at flights, just hoping that maybe one day, I will be able to go back to the place that changed my life. The city that showed me that I really could survive in the real world. Because when you study abroad, you have to go into that adult mode. You can’t just call your parents whenever you want, (time zones really mess up that whole thing) and therefore you sometimes have to figure your problems out by yourself. But that isn’t a bad thing. It shows that independence that I was talking about earlier, that you can do it on your own. And that feeling is so empowering that when you do go into the real world, like I am now, you are already one step ahead of so many others because you have that confidence.
So if you are a Salve student and you are thinking of studying abroad, clearly I’m going to tell you to do it. It is a time in your life where you have nothing but options, and this should be one of them. Opening your eyes to the world and traveling is one of the healthiest things you can do for your mind, body and spirit, and it really shows you how big and small this world is all in one breath. You never know who you might meet and how important they may be to your lives in the future. So go out there and do it. Travel somewhere, ANYWHERE, because you are so awesome, you have to share it with another country!