It’s been almost a month since I returned back to the US after a semester abroad in London. While yes, a semester in Europe was amazing, it’s nice to be home after learning so much from the various places I visited and the people that I met in each place. Although I learned so much aimlessly wandering around European city streets, I probably learned the most about myself.
- Everyone really is on their own journey throughout life.
One of the most interesting jobs I think Europe has to offer is working at hostels. While hostels are a worldwide trend, I’ve only experienced staying at these places when I was abroad. Most, if not all, of the people that work at hostels are not even from the country where the hostel is located. There are Brits working in Amsterdam, Italians and Argentinians working in London, and even a New Zealander working in Barcelona.
This phenomenon has helped me realize how everyone is on their own path in life. In the end, we are all just people trying to get to the next day. I feel like before this past semester, those were words that I heard but never really listened to. It’s something that is easier to understand when you’re continuously traveling to different countries and meeting people from all different types of backgrounds.
2. It’s easy to compare your semester with other’s.
A semester abroad, especially junior spring semester abroad, is weird. I feel like everyone I know and their mother was abroad last semester. My social media was flooded with people’s trips every weekend. I knew people that had polar opposite travel experiences, from those who traveled at most two times and people that were gone every weekend. Personally, I tried to do about half and half.
Since it was my first time in Europe, I had a lot of classic places on my bucket list, such as Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin, etc. Many of the people I knew abroad had already been to Europe and had visited places that I had yet to go, or had those trips planned for later in the program. This made it difficult to plan trips with people that you wanted to travel with sometimes. Regardless, I was always able to travel with a close friend or two, which was very lucky.
Almost every weekend, even the ones where I was traveling myself, I couldn’t help but compare my weekend to whatever weekend people I knew where having. Social media allowed me to take a peek into my friend’s trips and sometimes made me feel self-conscious about mine… like how f***** up is that? It takes away from you enjoying your life and your travels. I continuously had to put everything into perspective about how lucky I was to have this experience in general.
3. Falling in love with places and then leaving after a short period of time is hard.
Overall, I would say London was the hardest place to say goodbye to, probably since it was the city that I got to know the best. However, I was genuinely sad leaving almost every city that I visited. A weekend in a major city is not enough time. It just isn’t. I hope one day I can revisit and explore those cities some more, but I still have so many places that I want to visit that I didn’t get a chance to see this time around. Do you ever wish that you could be in a hundred different places at once?
4. When you travel with your brother, most people will think you’re actually dating.
My oldest brother Stephen came to visit me at the end of my semester. Together, we traveled and explored Dublin, Madrid, and Barcelona. I also got to show him the London I loved dearly. In every city, people thought that he was my boyfriend. People that we had hung out with, had sat next to at lunch, had talked to on the street, all thought that I was dating that goofball. One woman even told me that I should, “Hold onto him because he’s a good man.” Well there you have it, ladies! My brother is quite the catch!
5. Traveling with people who get you is the best.
My brother and I had to cut our trip around Europe a little short because I lost my phone in Barcelona (somehow at the airport?). My brother’s phone isn’t exactly the most reliable and we now live in a time where phones are pretty much a necessity in daily life. Feeling unsafe and uncomfortable with the thought of traveling to another country that I was not very familiar with sans my phone, we decided that going back to London would be the better option.
I felt terrible about our shortened our European tour, but Stephen made me feel better because “It was fine because he was still in Europe.” He was a good trooper and I cannot thank him enough for dealing with me as I cried in the Barcelona Airport out of many mixed emotions, mostly sadness for him and anger at myself. We made the best of our time back in London and I had more time to spend in the city that I had fallen for – London you have my heart!
My mom also got the chance to make it across the pond during her school’s Easter break. We even got to travel to Nice together! When we returned to London, my aunt joined us and I got to spend time with them every day. We even saw Hamilton, and I’ve listened to the soundtrack every day since.
6. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to go abroad, don’t take it for granted.
Boston University’s program let me experience life in a new city with some of my best friends from school. I was lucky enough to also see some of my best friends from home during my travels. I had my 21st birthday abroad, and my friends made it so special. I felt so loved. I’ve had crazy experiences and opportunities that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Thank you to everyone who made it so special, like Saoirse Ronan!
~This post is dedicated to my lovely parents because, without them, I wouldn’t have had this amazing experience. Sorry Mom, I love you but this is mostly for Dad, partially because of Father’s Day. My dad’s eagerness for travel, love for the world, and zest for learning about every culture that you could imagine have inspired me to try to get to know every city that I visited on a deeper level. My dad has helped me believe that the world is my oyster. It’s a big place, but it can fit all of us peacefully. Thanks, dad for letting me accomplish my dream and study abroad! Next time I travel internationally, I want you there with me!~