When I stepped off the plane at Heathrow a year ago, I didn’t think I was ready. I wasn’t even excited. Living in London for a semester wasn’t something I’d ever dreamed of doing. But I wanted to be part of the Olympic movement, and Temple’s School of Media and Communication has a dedicated study abroad program in London. So I went because I didn’t think I could do it, and to prove to myself that I could.
I lived in North London, in the neighborhood of Islington, and went to school in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea at Imperial College and the Foundation for International Education, and quickly found myself exploring all the time, never in my flat, and connecting with the culture. I took classes in British Mass Media, Travel Writing, and, of course, the London Olympics, where we traveled to the Olympic Park, met members of LOCOG and visited their headquarters, and saw the impact the Games had on the Stratford community.
But I wasn’t just “studying abroad;” I was working, too. Temple helped me secure an internship at Britain’s oldest and most widely-read golf magazine, Golf Monthly. It was there that I learned a little about golf and a lot about tea, learned how to correctly spell “cheque” and made some incredible friends that I still keep in touch with.
I grew my love for English football, and I still wake up early on gamedays to stream the Arsenal games, scream profanities at the Gunners on the pitch through my computer screen, and trash-talk my friends who are fans of other Prem teams. I got to see the medals from London 2012 before the rest of the world at the British Museum, got to travel to four other incredible countries, and pick up slang that still annoys my family and friends. I blogged about my adventures while I was there and cried the moment I had to get on a plane to come home. I wanted to stay forever.
And the four and a half months I thought I was going to dread changed my life. This week is Study Abroad Week at Temple, and I can’t advocate enough for the experience. There’s no way I could have studied abroad without TU. My tuition was the same; my scholarships followed me across the pond. Living in London was one of the best times of my life, and I can’t implore college students enough–no matter what course of study or where you want to go abroad–to explore your options, and just go. I learned so much about myself, became independent, and found a new culture I love, and I’ll keep those memories with me forever.
So many people, when I talk about my time in London, tell me the one thing they regret about college is not taking the time to study abroad. I became more confident, more connected, and stronger from my time in England, and I can’t encourage students enough to look into studying abroad.