Student reflects on life in England


Only three short months ago, I boarded a plane at Pittsburgh International Airport and began what I could only imagine to be the best experience of my life. Little did I know, all of my preparation could not prepare me for what was awaiting me on the other side of the pond.
I started planning for my study abroad experience in the fall semester of my freshman year, after attending the Learning Abroad Fair. At this fair, I was introduced to the representative for the American Institute for Foreign Study and she explained to me how I could live out my dream of studying abroad in England. From then on, I worked with Meagan McHugh, Gannon University’s associate director of learning abroad, to make my dreams a reality.
Although I had read countless articles, pins on Pinterest, and talked to students who had been on study abroad, I had no idea what kind of journey I was about to embark on.
On Aug. 30, I arrived at Heathrow Airport and the first few days of my time in London were a touristy blur. During the first week, I visited all the must-sees of London, while trying to make new friends and prepare for classes. It was rather overwhelming, to say the least.
When you read about study abroad, you only really hear about the great things it will do for your life and education, but it is difficult at first. I found that the universities in England are much different from Gannon. Classes are more difficult and you are graded more on writing and projects rather than quizzes and smaller tests.
You also miss home. Leaving your family, friends and significant other for four months can cause some FOMO (fear of missing out). But, it does pass. You will still miss home and wish you could be there for your friend’s birthday or Thanksgiving dinner, but study abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life.
I found once classes began, life seemed to slow down and it was easier to deal with the FOMO and homesickness. Eventually, I found a routine and made London home. Every day I take a walk through Hyde Park and try to pet every dog in sight, since I often miss my pets at home.
Classes also help build this routine. I am taking two marketing classes, a photography class and two theater classes. Despite the fact I had originally worried about taking two very important classes for my academic development while abroad, I am glad I did. Currently the United Kingdom is experiencing changes in the business sector, due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. This is a popular topic in these marketing classes and has shaped the way I look at global marketing. The classes stress the importance of a global community and I have seen first hand the way in which the world is interconnected.
Study abroad has constantly been changing the way I think about and view the world through education and experience. I have had the chance to visit more than 10 countries and learn about a variety of cultures, while exploring new cities that I once thought I would only be able to read about.
Traveling has changed my point of view in such a short period of time. I now understand and respect cultural differences while learning to communicate with others despite language barriers and differences in opinion.
Study abroad has been one of the best adventures of my life, and despite brief periods of homesickness I have had more fun than I ever have before. I am making new friends every day and learning more about others around me, while learning more about myself. Study abroad has taught me to be confident in my abilities and given me a sense of independence I could have never found back home.
As a junior advertising and communication major, I could not have chosen a better place to study abroad than London. The city has shaped me into a more responsible and globally aware person. Although I occasionally miss home and have some FOMO, I am thankful I had the chance to study abroad. I will forever be able to call London home and I hope some day I can return to the city that has changed my life.

[email protected]