As of today, I’ve officially been abroad for a full month. This is the longest I’ve ever left the country, and I definitely expected to feel at least a little homesick at this point. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m surrounded by UGA students, or that everyone here speaks English too, but I don’t feel that way at all. If anything, I feel like this month has gone by far too fast – I can’t already be a third of the way done with my trip, can I?
When I was in Cannes, I was getting homesick by the second week in. I don’t know exactly what shift has occurred since that time, but I do think my mindset is different this time around. I don’t feel as connected with “home” as I did before – though that’s not to say I don’t miss my parents or my dogs or my friends, because I definitely do. But as cheesy as it may sound, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
As a reflection on the time I’ve been abroad, I’m going to share the three biggest lessons I’ve learned so far.
1. Do something out of your comfort zone
This can have a variety of meanings, but the central point is, you’re already in a foreign country, so why not get even farther out of your comfort zone while you’re at it? I don’t know if most study abroad programs are like this or if it’s just mine, but we have the chance to join any Oxford or Keble student organizations while you’re here. So, despite having no background in the sport whatsoever, I’ve joined the rowing team. It’s a completely new sport to me, and totally different from my usual workout regimen of running and Pure Barre, and so far, I love it. Not to mention, joining organizations at the school you study at is a great way to make friends with other students.
2. Take advantage of everything around you
This sounds a bit straightforward, and these all sound a bit cliché, aren’t they? Well, maybe studying abroad has turned me into a walking cliché. I guess I’ll just have to live with that. But seriously, if you study abroad in Europe, you’re a short flight away from pretty much everything else in Europe. I’ve visited London around once a week since I got here, and I’m currently in the process of planning other trips to make for the rest of term. When’s the next time you’ll be a two-hour flight away from at least 10 different countries at once? Make the most of that.
3. Don’t forget the “study” in study-abroad
It’s so easy to get sucked into the trap of being abroad, and let that cloud the fact that, above all, you’re here to study. Especially since I’m at Oxford, being abroad doesn’t make the schoolwork any easier. The Oxford tutorial system is incredibly rigorous, and I’m currently writing this post from the Keble College library as I take a break from reading/writing for the past four hours. So have fun, but plan your time wisely so that you can both travel and do well in your classes.
I’m sure I’ll have more to share after I make it through the remaining two months of this whole adventure, but for now, this is my advice. Now I just have to make sure I follow through with it as well!