For my STEP Signature Project, I studied abroad at City, University of London for the Spring 2018 term. Through this, I was able to explore London, as well as twelve other European countries! I also made many long-lasting relationships in the process.
In all honesty, my initial reaction to London was that it was similar to the US. There were many skyscrapers, a diverse crowd, everyone spoke English; it really felt like any other big US city. However, my first change in perception came in the classroom. On the first day of class, I interacted with my British classmates. They were very interested in the fact that I was American and wanted to learn much about me. I was then able to ask about them and their culture, and the exchange of information truly made me understand the differences in background that I had with them. Additionally, traveling to the other European countries and seeing unique things in each place made me experience this same thing.
The key aspects in my time abroad definitely are the relationships that I made with people. These are the people that I traveled around Europe with, spoke to, and spent time with. I was quite nervous my first week arriving to London. The first few people that I met were the people that were a part of my program. To be honest, I did not get close to them. I can recall hanging out with them on the first two days and things just didn’t seem to click. This made me frightened. I was scared that these were the people that I would be stuck with for the entire time.
After the first two days, the university that I attended hosted a welcome reception for all study abroad students. This meant that I had the chance to finally interact with students from different programs and not just my own. When I arrived to the reception, I was with the people in my program. We began talking in a circle, not interacting with anyone new. After a while, they decided to leave and I was about to leave with them, however, in that moment, I felt that if I had left, I would have let myself down. Therefore, I decided not to leave and told my group that I will be staying behind.
From there, that’s when I met three important people. These people are the ones that ultimately became the friends that I stuck with for the remainder of the study abroad. The ones that I clicked so well with, traveled around Europe with, and remained friends with. I am so thankful to have met them. The establishment of the relationship with them truly taught me to really go out of your comfort zone if you want something. Fortunately for me, I managed to do so and made long-lasting relationships.
As stated before, the aspect of this study abroad that I valued greatly were the relationships. Even though it has been three weeks since my study abroad ended, I am still regularly keeping in contact with the friends that I had made. Aside from that, I still think about Europe every day. When will I ever get the chance again to visit a new country every weekend? That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so glad that I was able to use it to my advantage.