I’m sitting here writing this and I cannot believe that my study abroad experience has come and gone in a flash. What an unforgettable adventure!
Living in London was absolutely wonderful, and truly it was the only city I have ever loved in comparison to Chicago, which is my home town and my favorite city in the world. Ironically enough, I didn’t want to visit the overwhelmingly popular tourist attractions the city had to offer, though I still ended up seeing quite a few, to be honest. From my experience living in a city, I know that the best parts of its culture and history lie outside of the heavily frequented monuments and historic structures. While I definitely have a great appreciation for history, I enjoy meeting local people and seeing how their culture and identities contribute to their vast and colorful city. I met and spoke with local artisans, chatted with folks over delicious dining experiences, and immersed myself in the wonder that was English pub culture.
A normal day in London for us would consist of getting up and grabbing coffee down the street as well as a croissant from our in-house café. We would munch on these on our way to class, hopping on the 168 bus from The Stay Club to IES. We would have a brief 2-4 hour class with discussions, presentations, and documentaries. After that was our favorite part of the day. We would take off through the city and adventure off on a 2-5 hour walking tour of London and its boroughs. It was a whirlwind really! We somehow managed to have a class that was incredibly fun, a professor that was unbelievably passionate, and a group of students that were all up for an adventure, and a city seeping with musical history.
One of my other favorite European adventures was when we got to travel independently. Our professor kindly granted us a long weekend and we went off to explore! Luckily, I had teamed up with the other two girls that were in my group and we planned a mini weekend in Dublin. Oh, Dublin! Ever since I can remember I have been completely obsessed with Celtic culture and music. When I realized that we were actually going to make the trip to Ireland, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. While our time in Dublin was short, it was one of the best weekends of my life. I have been working so hard with school, internships, and work that I genuinely forgot what it is like to just have fun! Ireland (and largely, my entire trip to Europe) really reminded me that I’m still a kid! Yes, I do have goals and responsibilities, but I don’t need to take everything SO seriously. Spending three lovely days with a couple of great pals exploring a city and culture I have loved all of my life really reminded me to live life to the fullest. Our Ireland excursion was a wonderful, yet sadly short-lived, adventure. However, I know it is one experience I will never forget.
Overall, my first trip to Europe and my experience with study abroad was unfathomably incredible. I had always convinced that studying abroad wouldn’t work out for me. There was never really a semester-long program that worked well with my major and I had no idea how I could justify the cost of it all. I knew when Professor Gass first mentioned his study abroad trip to us three years ago that it would be my only chance to comfortably go abroad. I could not believe my luck when he announced that he would be taking this trip for the last time during this summer. However, it snuck up on me pretty quickly and I didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this trip. Through extreme savings, intense budgeting, a little help from my parents, and a TON of help from OVPDEMA, I managed to take this trip to London/Dublin/Liverpool and walk away with immensely more knowledge, a strong sense of self, and a reminder that IU was genuinely the best decision I have ever made for myself.