For anyone studying abroad, here are a few life lessons I’ve learned along the way…
1.Expect the unexpected–keep an open mind and prepare as well as you can, but beyond that try and let go and live in the moment! For example, my flight back to London was cancelled after a lovely weekend in Amsterdam. Immediately, my travel buddy and I began brainstorming and contacting airline companies, train services, bus lines, and our parents. We did as much as we could to solve our problems and it ended up working out, despite some added stress and running at breakneck speed through the Amsterdam airport at 10pm.
2. Take time for you–I made sure I always had a few extra minutes in the morning to enjoy a warm cuppa’ tea and some mornings I even practiced my pilates. Physical activity is important to me and I always feel better when I include it in my day, but I was flexible and listened to my body. If I walked ten miles around the city one day, I felt tired and my body was happy without extra Pilates. Did I lose some strength and progress in my Pilates practice? Yes. Do I care? No, because I spent that time exploring London, making friends, and truly living. (Tip: Buy a yoga mat off a Craigslist-esque site [Gumtree in London] for about $7 to use while abroad–cheaper than a gym membership and perfect for yoga or Pilates!)
3. ENJOY–just breathe, be quiet, look, and listen.
4.Go it alone–solitude can be a challenge for many people, especially during college! As an introvert, I enjoy a certain amount of solitude and I loved the occasional afternoon jaunt on my own. It can be scary to explore an unfamiliar place alone, but it helps develop confidence and is always a learning experience. I highly recommend getting lost (in a safe area) and simply wandering.
5. Journal–do not think you’ll remember the little daily occurrences and events; write them down. Each night, take as little as five minutes and make a note of what happened that day, a new experience, or something you learned.
6. Set goals–I was overwhelmed by the amazing number of opportunities in London and had no idea how to visit them all in three weeks. I prioritized them and made sure to schedule in the top places I wanted to see, made plans with friends, and made it happen. This is an example of using SMART goals…I plan to do a whole post on SMART goals within the coming weeks, so keep a look out!
Have you studied or lived abroad? What advice do you have? Any favorite memories?