Growing up an avid traveller, all I ever wanted to do was spend a little time living in England. I had visited England six times for month long vacations, and each time I grow more attached, fell more in love with the country. England had undoubtedly been my favourite country since I was seven: its rich culture, history and beautiful London all appealed to me.
I wanted to have a living experience in the UK, and after looking into my visa options, I decided a semester abroad was the cheapest option for me, so that’s exactly what I did. Leaving Australia behind for seven months wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Perhaps this is because I’ve been travelling abroad since I was seven years old, or maybe because I am just trying to make the most of my experience. Either way, I am not homesick nor do I have recurring dreams of life back in Australia.
There are five stages to studying abroad: excitement, disorientation, loneliness, homesickness and acceptance. Most people experience these stages at different points of their experience abroad, and there is no set time for each stage to occur. They simply depend on how well an individual can adjust to their new environment. The best way for these stages or me to get through these stages, or even avoid them altogether, was to accept my new home straight away.
Being young, there’s so much I want to do with my money, yet I am extremely restricted. Learning to be financially stable is something that everyone needs to face eventually.
I’ve also learnt that it is important to have friends while studying in London, and in order to make friends I need to put myself out there and be a confident new me. Attending events, joining clubs and chatting with people in my classes was the best and quickest way to make friends. Having a close group of friends away is perhaps why I haven’t fallen into a deep black hole of misery; I’ve essentially built a family and a new support network.
If someone were to ask me what the hardest part about living in a different country is, I’d say money. Being young, there’s so much I want to do with my money, yet I am extremely restricted. Learning to be financially stable is something that everyone needs to face eventually, but doing so while studying in London and with no job was daunting, and continues to be. It was an adjustment, and a scary one. Being financially responsible for the first time, spending money and knowing I won’t be getting paid next week was hard to accept at first. I needed to learn how to be totally reliant on myself, and I needed to remind myself straight away: this is an experience, and a damn good one!
There are five stages to studying abroad: excitement, disorientation, loneliness, homesickness and acceptance.
Not only have I had to manage budgeting everything from milk to rent, but also I’ve had to learn how to cook. Cooking isn’t always as easy as it looks! I’ve watched other students cook and prepare food, and I’ve learned a lot. From curry to enchiladas, cooking is now a hurdle that I’ve jumped over.
But what about the actual study side? The concept of studying abroad is extremely misleading and entirely deceitful, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t study, and neither do the people I’ve met. Sure, I do my assignments and prepare for my classes, but how can I possibly sit down and do course work when I have an entire new living experience outside my front door? I simply can’t. I need to get out and experience my new life. My first month abroad has taught me a few valuable life lessons, one being how to get by in class without studying for it!
Experiencing a different culture is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Meeting people from around the world that all speak the same language yet have a different way of life, live in different climates and use different phrases is beautiful. Meeting people that don’t speak English and learning phrases and culture from them is not something you can experience unless you leave your comfort zone. Living abroad, in the multicultural city of London, I’ve been experiencing so much more than just my studies: I’ve been experiencing life.