How my luck followed me abroad

50628516_536187006888602_9120415284153286656_n Jessica Leibman/THE REVIEW
Our study abroad columnist ditches the tourist traps for an authentic glimpse of culture in London.

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No millennial really enjoys receiving or reading emails, but every once in a while, you get an email that enlivens even the drudgery of email. One that, perhaps, tells you that you are joining the winter session study abroad program in London sponsored by the Department of English and the Department of Theatre.

In other words, I would be spending a month in London with almost no one I knew.

Preparation included multiple orientation meetings where we met the professors leading the trip and other university students who would be attending. I quickly realized I truly knew no one. My anxiety increased, but I remained optimistic about the experience.

As the 2018 fall semester came to a close, the fact I would be studying in another country for a month began to feel a little more like reality. In true “me” fashion, I waited until the last couple days to prepare for the trip (which I don’t recommend).

And then it arrived.

I had never traveled alone before and I can’t say it was my best flying experience. It was an overnight flight, and, lucky for me, I can never sleep on planes. With maybe an hour of sleep — and an ache in almost every joint in my body — I landed at Heathrow Airport. Traveling and finding my group at the airport was not at all easy, but I hoped it would be worth it.

And so far it has been as much. I have only been here for less than a week and it has been one of the longest weeks of my life. Everyone has freedom at college by being away from their parents and living on their own, but being in a whole other country without your parents feels like a whole different level of freedom.

I quickly took advantage of the fact that I can legally drink in England, and immediately went to all the major tourist spots. Again, lucky for me, Big Ben is currently under construction and unrecognizable, and the London Eye is closed.

Since I am taking classes (and earning credits!) while here it’s not all fun and games. Monday through Thursday from morning until noon I am in class. And yes I know — only having class three hours in the morning with the rest of the day free is a pretty great deal. We also sometimes see plays at night (the most recent being “True West,” which starred Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones”).

I was also lucky — and not sarcastically this time — that I found a good group of people; everyone on this trip is nice and excited about being here. Despite all the big touristy spots being closed, it’s what you make of it. Between walking around London, seeing plays with my class and drinking at the local pubs, I think I’ve filled this first week with as much as I could have.

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