After spending a 14 hour day traveling through different airports to get home from London I have returned home safely. Surprisingly, the airports I had went through were not crazy and clustered they were almost empty at some points. When I returned to the U.S. everyone was required to fill out a form on where they have been and if they have an symptoms of the corona virus. Getting off the plane everyone had their temperature taken and was given a pamphlet about the virus.
At this point all of my classes are online and many assessments have been pushed back. Adjustments to online classes have not been too bad considering the circumstances. I only have about a week and a half left of classes before spring break and then one or two final assessments. The only thing that is a little bit of a struggle is the time difference for the lectures. Rather than my lectures being at 12pm some are at 8am. For the assessments that I have to turn in I play it safe and turn them in a day before just in case I forget about the time difference.
Overall, adjusting to being home has been a little weird but not difficult. At first I was tired at different times of the day but I have gotten used to this time zone again. I definitely notice more of the little things and the differences being back home. Having to not wash every dish right after I use it is nice. The biggest issued I have had is trying not to think about what I would be doing in London if this did not happen. I still have the urge to travel and want to go places which can be frustrating in these times but I just keep telling myself that I will be back to London and Europe at some point!
This post is a little harder for me to write because my experience has come to an end so abruptly but, the situation that I have been put in will most likely not happen again. I HIGHLY recommend studying abroad!! You grant yourself the opportunity to experience different parts of the world, different cultures and perspectives that have the ability to completely change your outlook on life. You meet so many amazing people and create new friendships that will last a lifetime. You get to try new things that you would never find at home as well as discover new things about yourself that you would not typically expect. Wherever you study, whatever you study, you will learn topics in a completely different way than being taught at home and in my opinion that gives you an upper hand on learning.
Studying abroad has brought me so many good memories and moments, especially when traveling to new destinations. I don’t know how you could say no to being able to travel all of Europe or all of Asia. Wherever the destination may be you are going to have time to travel a lot and see SO much!! Being abroad definitely strengthens your mind in the best way possible. You have to rely on your independence much more than being home but this is what allows you to grow as a person and open up to new situations and perspectives. Studying abroad is an amazing experience and it gives you the chance to check things off your bucket list, it has for me! Although my semester was cut short I do not regret going and I wish I could do another semester abroad. Having the opportunity to go abroad I have definitely matured and grown more as a person. In addition to this, Umass Dartmouth has a great international programs office and they have done their best with helping me find a destination and program that I would really enjoy.
Alright so in my previous post I mentioned how much effect the corona virus is having on students and the world right now. Well update, not only is the school telling me to come home but my program canceled and told me to go home. So, my flight out is tomorrow and I am going to have to self quarantine for 14 days when I am back home. It feels like a nightmare to be honest, hand sanitizer is selling out everywhere and everyone is being told to stay inside. At this point in time the only thing I’m worried about is the UK going on lock down before my flight out but I think that will not happen within the next few days. Pretty much all of my friends have already left and told me that they have not had too much trouble in the airports so that’s a plus. Its sad and frustrating with all of this going on. Having to pack my bags and clean out my room this early was definitely not expected. My classes are all online now which could be tough for the live seminars because of the time difference back home. I still have a lot of food and alcohol left over which is frustrating because all of this happened so fast but whatever I don’t finish I will give to my friends that are staying longer. I still feel healthy but I do feel striped of a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don’t think I will be able to make it back here and have the opportunity to travel so much for awhile but right now the main priority is to stay safe and healthy.
I do want to talk about the time I did get sick abroad though. For those who read this and having worrying parents about getting sick abroad, show them this. Not only did I get sick abroad I got sick not even in my host country. I had went to Tromso, Norway to see the northern lights and if you don’t know where that is, look it up (up by the arctic circle) its essentially in the middle of nowhere. I got strep throat for the first time and I was staying about 40 minutes from Tromso (again middle of nowhere). At the time I needed antibiotics none of the clinics where open or had doctors on site. Luckily, my airbnb host was nice enough to drive me to the emergency room to get a prescription for the antibiotics. Definitely not a fun situation to be in but I guess its situations like those that build your resiliency. Overall, the weekend could have been more enjoyable but I did get to check something off my bucket list.
One thing that surprised me during my experience here was the corona virus. This virus had originally broke out in the news around January and I never thought it would get this bad and have such a big impact on my study abroad experience. It has spread all across Europe and the U.S. like wild fire becoming a global pandemic and with the media hyping it up even more many people are getting sent home by their home schools. Some of my suite-mates and friends here have already been either sent home or been recommended to come home. It really is sad because for myself and most, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something like this. With a majority of European countries having corona virus cases, travel outside of my location is strongly not recommended so all I can do is hope this virus disappears and I don’t get sent home. Honestly, I think this is probably the worst possible situation that could have happened for someone in my situation besides a nuclear attack. I might be exaggerating a little there, but I had originally planned on doing a majority of my travel in April and hitting nine or ten countries but as of right now its not looking good. 🙁 Enough of the negatives though!
Another thing that surprised me during my experience is that I my mental is stronger than I thought. I’m not worried about much here and I can feel myself becoming stronger everyday. I think with being abroad and traveling you gain many different perspectives and with those perspectives it gives you the ability to put more together and grow your mind. I also have realized that I am more resilient than I thought. There have been tough and stressful situations but I have found ways to bounce back and turn the negatives into positives with ease. Overall, this virus has been the biggest surprise. At this point in time my continuation here will be determined by next week so I really hope my time here does not get cut short. Currently it is safer here than being in the U.S but only time will tell.
There is so much to see here in London so its hard to narrow down to a top five for a visitor to not miss. The United Kingdom is also full of so many good places to see so that’s hard to narrow down as well. I would say one thing that a visitor should not miss in London is Big Ben and the Parliament buildings. Both are awesome to look at and take pictures of and are definitely a must see. Another top five thing a visitor should not miss is Westminster Abbey. It’s not free entry but on Tuesday’s there is evening song which is free to go and listen to so you have a way in! It’s definitely worth it though, inside is absolutely gorgeous and there is a lot to see, I recommend getting the audio tour to follow along. To add on, I would say a visitor should not miss seeing Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The inside ceilings are amazing to look at and you can climb 508 steps up to the top for a good view over the city. The view is worth the steps trust me! Another must see in London is Tower Bridge. Its not hard to miss and is a very popular spot. You can get some awesome pictures on Tower Bridge of the Thames and for a few pounds you can go up to the top and walk across the glass above the street. If you don’t like heights this one might not be for you but you can still get great pictures of the bridge. Lastly, in the top five I would say do not miss a ride on the London eye. It is iconic and nearly in every shot of London that you see, plus you get incredible views of central London. Some honorable mentions, would be the markets throughout London such as, borough market, portabello road market, brick lane market and so many more. All of those markets have so many different kinds of really fresh food that are all delicious. Also a good honorable mention is the Shard. You can go up 72 floors and have an incredible view of London. There are also a few bars up top as well, so you can enjoy a drink in the sky. Overall, London is chalk full of cool places to visit, with plenty of options that will suit your preferences. (inserted is a picture I took on tower bridge)
So far my study abroad experience has definitely influenced my career goals a bit. I think it has made me realize that I would not mind traveling internationally for a career. Goals wise, I think it has confirmed for me that I really want to have a career in the marketing field because all of the marketing classes I am taking here have been really interesting and informational. The subject areas in my classes are taught through lectures and workshops which give me a more hands on feel. Being able to go through an example of what we talked about in the lecture with others in a workshop has allowed me to really understand the ins and outs of certain marketing techniques. Having this ability, I have discovered that I’m interested in pursuing the analytics and analysis side of marketing. I have not been able to establish any good connections with any professors so far but I have with students. With professors its a little harder because most of my classes here are pretty large. Although, my marketing research professor seems to like me and she is very knowledgeable so she will be my first connection I try to make. I have had some conversations with locals in my area of study in my classes to gain some insight on their views. I have mostly discovered that the locals here do not just take marketing as a study, it is paired with something. For them, they take marketing and management as one, so when I just say marketing they get confused. Overall, I would say so far study abroad has solidified my career goals. It has showed me how I can work on my own in any country and still get things done. It has also showed me that I want to travel endlessly, so combining a career and travel might be a good thing. Lastly, being abroad has allowed me to gain more insight in my field of study as well as realize what marketing aspect I might want a career in.
So far I have not engaged a lot with the local culture. I have done a few things, like go to some interesting club meetings and explore different groups. I have a gym membership now at the local school gym so there I get a good chance to engage in the local culture a little bit. One of the things I have noticed about the local culture is that everyone goes to pubs a lot. Pubs are for drinks after work and nobody really gets food. It is more of just a sit, talk and drink vibe. Another thing that has been clear about the local culture is that it is very fast pace and everything is go go go. Everybody has somewhere to be and something to do here. The city is always awake and even when you think nobody is going to be at a super early bus or train there are always a good amount of people.
Some things that I love about the local culture is that it is so diverse. London is a big mixing pot full of people from all over the world. Almost everyone you walk by here is speaking a different language so it is cool to hear. Another thing that I love about the local culture is how helpful everyone is. Well maybe not every person but for the most part, there are a lot of kind people that will help you if you look like you are really struggling with getting around. Some of the things I am still adjusting to is the currency. I still sometimes say dollars instead of pounds which can draw some interesting looks. In addition to that, I am still getting use to the different words they use for certain things in London. For example, trainers are said for shoes, jumper is said for a sweatshirt or crew-neck, trousers are pants, that kind of thing. Overall, I am really enjoying the local culture here and I am looking forward to becoming more immersed in it as the semester goes by!
Right now I am on week four of the semester. Studying in London is much more independent compared to studying at home. Each week the modules I take have lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the day. The lectures and seminars are around two hours each and you are not assigned homework or assignments each week. The assessments are also much different than home. Some of my modules only have one assessment at the end of the semester that count for 100% of your grade, while others have two or three pieces of coursework that make up a majority of your grade. So far I like the class dynamic, it is less demanding but you are still expected to know the topic being discussed. The professors are very knowledgeable, trustworthy and caring towards all the students. The students in my modules consist of local, international and US study abroad students. Another thing I forgot to mention is that attendance if different than what I am use to. Each lecture, seminar and workshop you have to “tap in” with your student ID on these little black boxes when you enter the room and it records your attendance.
My favorite place in the university is probably the study/lounge area in the business building. This area has a cafe and is full of comfy chairs and pods that you can relax and study in. So far the best thing that I have discovered at the university could be the creativity space. This space is not on my campus but I have one of my modules here. It is a space with endless amounts of resources in the arts and sciences building. They have the newest technology that you are free to use, digital touch screens, comfy couches and so much more. Overall it has to be my favorite because it has so much to offer. I am looking forward to expanding my marketing knowledge as the semester progresses!
So I got lost in the tube (subway) for the first time yesterday! It was not the best experience but overall adjusting to London has not been terribly hard. Navigating the city took some time getting acclimated to but I think I got it down now. I went into this experience knowing that almost everything is going to be different than home and not to expect a lot of similarities. There are some similar things compared to home that I have picked up on. London has a good amount of food places that we have at home such as, Chipotle, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Burger King. A few new things is that they drive on the left hand side over here and adjusting to looking the other direction has been somewhat of a challenge. I have been doing the classic “triple check” as my other American friends say over here, just to make sure I don’t get cleaned out by a car, bike or bus. Another new thing that is completely different is that instead of asking ‘hows it going’ they say ‘are you alright’ which kind of caught me off guard at first. Additionally, something that is new and exciting is being so close to so much; from all the things to do in the city to all of Europe being in reaching distance. I love that this city has so much to offer. There is every kind of food you could name, giving me endless options of where to eat.
Being a new comber in a different country can but tough, but also entertaining. There is a lot I do not understand but it is entertaining to see how different some methods of doing things are. Everything is done in a certain way, for a certain reason. For example, taxi’s are allowed to drive in the bus lanes because they need to get around fast and need to be able to pick up anybody calling for one. Being a new comer in a different country has made me realize that each place has their own way of doing things efficiently. It has also made me realize how many of the methods used here would not work at home.
Arriving in London was both exciting and nerve racking. My first impressions were that it is very loud and busy just like any big city but this was a little different. I felt bombarded with all the things London has to offer. At first the transportation system looked like a labyrinth consisting of unlimited ways to go in every direction. On the other hand this made it very easy to discover that London has so many places to eat and so many things to do, all of them look appealing. The city is a lovely combination of old buildings and modern buildings. Usually that combination is not appealing and doesn’t work for a big city but everything from the cobblestone roads to the Shard fits so well together. The weather here is constantly between the 40’s and high 50’s, which is not terribly cold. It does rain a lot in London but if you always have your umbrella its no big deal.
When I first moved into my home here my initial reactions were that the building is nice and the rooms are good for living so close to the city. I am not entirely in the city but just outside of central London in a really nice neighborhood. My room is on the 11th floor of my building so my view of the city is awesome. It is a small room with a good size desk and small bathroom. I’m not upset with my living situation here, I am in a suite with five other people some girls, some guys and we have a shared kitchen. The only thing I am not really a fan of is the fridge we have. Mostly everyone cooks here because eating out in London all the time is expensive especially where we are so, it is a bit small for six people to share.
Lastly, the University of Westminster business school is wonderful. All but one of my classes are right downstairs in the business school so it is really convenient. The classroom sizes are about what I am used to at Umass Dartmouth. They are nicely looking modern classrooms with a lot of new technology which is always a plus. It is definitely different from my home university but so far I am really enjoying the learning environment here!