Leaving My Small Hometown for a Summer in London

September 18, 2013
Leaving My Small Hometown for a Summer in London

I’ve told myself from the age of 10 or so that I’d study abroad in college. Both of my parents had traveled abroad during their years in school, and I was determined to do the same. At the age of 20, I was faced with the reality of my dream and it turned out to be exactly what I’d hoped for.

Everyone has to find the study abroad program that works best for him or her.  I wanted an internship in an English-speaking country over the summer. So, in early June, I headed abroad to spend the summer in London.

Going abroad was full of adventure: Seeing The Killers perform at Wembley Stadium. Seeing actor Simon Pegg up close at his movie premiere. Casually flying to Dublin for the weekend. Stumbling upon the greatest hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Cheering for Wimbledon matches with locals at a bar. Attending a British musical. Going to a bar completely made of ice–down to the glasses. London was a dream.

Of course I did real-world big-girl stuff too, like work, cook, clean, deal with roommates I’d never met, navigate London, and make weekend plans. Cooking and budgeting did lose its glamour within one day of being there, but the fun parts of London more than made up for it.

After living my whole life in a small hometown and an even smaller college town, one aspect of London that struck me was its phenomenally huge size.  Luckily, huge did not correlate with its being scary. What I’m happy to report that I never really worried about my safety. I did travel in a group with guys for the most part.  But even without them, I was never frightened. The streets were well lit, no one ever heckled at me or my friends, and the clubs and bars we visited were never sketchy. This was one of the first trips I took without my parents and I felt completely fine during it.

At the end of my trip, my brother visited for a week, and then we met up with my parents in Scotland. After two months of being a grown up, it was nice to be with my family again (and hey, I was also fine with them picking up the check).

I would definitely advise other college students to travel abroad.  While in college, you are freer and have fewer worries than you will likely have afterward. During this past summer, I learned a lot about London and even more about myself. College is a bubble, during which your biggest concerns include grades, parties and sporting games. Going abroad put me face-to-face with the real world and allowed me to see some of what my future holds.

About Claire Van

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