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Study Abroad: A Journey of Independence

How Moving to a Different Country Teaches You About Yourself 

By Amanda Healy 

a postcard
Graphic By Florence Wang

It’s been just over a month since I first arrived in London to partake in one of the most anticipated experiences in college: study abroad. Being in another country feels like a time warp. From making new friends to seeing and doing everything possible, it feels like I have been here for months. Living in a different country, even where your native language is spoken, can be filled with culture shock—but you can also discover a lot about yourself. 

Reflecting on my first week in London, I realize how much personal growth I have already experienced in such a short time. Under normal circumstances, making new friends can seem like a daunting task. However, when people are placed in the same unfamiliar environment, talking to people you may not have spoken to back in Boston becomes much easier. It’s a bizarre concept to meet someone for the first time and then travel to France together two weeks later. Tasks that seem like big commitments at home become the norm when studying abroad.

While navigating a new city, you also have to adapt to its unique modes of transportation. I quickly learned how to get around the tube and London’s iconic double-decker buses. Based on other students’ unfortunate experiences, I have learned to always keep my personal belongings close to me to minimize the chance of someone stealing my phone. Navigating new scenarios, like learning a new transportation system, can seem scary. However, when you are placed in unfamiliar situations, you will surprise yourself with what you can do. 

After the first week, I did many activities with my new friends, but I also started to branch out on my own. If I wasn’t in class, I would walk or tube to different neighborhoods, exploring bakeries and hidden charms. Getting to know the area allows you to gain a sense of independence and confidence to try new things by yourself without waiting for others. Throughout my life, I have caught myself being hesitant to do certain things because I was worried about doing them alone. It is freeing not to have these second thoughts as I study abroad.

I’m only a month in, but studying abroad has revealed so much about myself to me. I can only imagine the things I will have learned by the end of the program, and I can’t wait to reflect on my experiences when that time comes.


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