I had the life-changing opportunity to study abroad in London in the Fall of 2017 and what once seemed like a completely different world, quickly began to feel like home. As someone who had not traveled much before this trip, I expected it to take some time to adjust to being in a completely different country. Yet, within my first week there, it felt like I had been there for years.
Because my time abroad spanned almost 4 months, I was able to experience a wide variety of things. London was unique in the fact that it was such a diverse city, with citizens from all over the EU. Being an IU student I’m no stranger to walking, so my favorite thing to do was to leave our flat (“apartment”), choose a direction, and just start walking. Each time I experienced something new, whether it was a traditional British Pub or a hole-in-the-wall Thai place, there was always something new to try. Of course, the first week there I experienced all the traditional touristy things like the London Eye or the theater but over my 4 months there, I experienced more traditional British things like going to Camden Market on a busy Saturday or going to Hyde Park for Winter Wonderland.
In addition to having the opportunity to explore London, I worked with an amazing non-profit organization, Providence Row Employability. Providence Row was an organization with the mission to tackle the root causes of homelessness and to provide skills that will help participants get off and stay off the streets. My time with my internship allowed me to dive deeper into British life and experience a new work environment. Working with the amazing people at Providence Row was the most rewarding part of my trip. I was able to connect with our clients, who shared their stories and taught me things I would have never learned sitting in a classroom. Not only did our clients teach me, but so did my coworkers. My coworkers showed me the ropes of British office culture, like the proper way to make a cup of tea, asking for help when you need it, and how to interact in a unique professional setting. Not only did they help me adapt to a new workplace setting but they became my family. Going to the pub after work and sharing stories of the crazy things that might have happened that day or talking about the unfolding of Brexit debacle were some of my fondest memories of my time abroad.
Traveling abroad was something that I didn’t think I would ever get to do in my lifetime. My time in London broke my admitted American-centric perspective and created a more expansive view. A huge thanks to the 21st Century Scholarship program and the Office of Diversity Equity, and Multicultural Affairs for making what was seemingly impossible, possible and giving this IU student an opportunity of a lifetime.