Only two weeks until my time in England ends and I return home. As I enter these final weeks, I find myself reflecting on what I have learned and gained out of my experience abroad. Honestly, I am not entirely sure of the best way to recap all that I have learned. Based on my conversations with fellow study abroad-ers and administrators here at Advanced Studies England, no two study abroad experiences are alike, as it is a highly individualized experience.
That being said, I feel that my time abroad has been focused on learning more about myself. Yes, that sounds incredibly clichéd, but it is true. Through traveling to and living in a different country I have come to realize what my comfort levels are and what I want to gain out of new experiences. The expression “[blank] is what you make of it” is true of study abroad, and options for how to carry out this opportunity are unlimited. A small sampling of students on my program reveals that some focus more on taking advantage of exploring the U.K., others hit as many European countries as they possibly can in fifteen weeks, while others still emphasize the “study” in study abroad. An ideal study abroad would encompass all these factors and many more, yet yours certainly does not have to.
The purpose of this post is to alleviate some of the pressure that many students feel to have the quintessential study abroad experience. Pop culture and Instagram paint a picture of study abroad as a brightly colored, globe-trotting wonderland hiding just behind every corner. Like most things you see in the movies, this is not necessarily true. Study abroad, just like every other experience in life, is full of ups and downs. Yet this is what makes it special, not the artificial happiness portrayed on social media.
My final advice on study abroad? Live it in the way that you feel is best for you. That is not going to be the same way as some high school classmate you follow on Insta or even your roommate on the program, and that’s okay. Study abroad is your experience, and no one else’s. The only person’s expectations that you should try to live up to are your own.