Studying abroad for a year has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Throughout my first semester, I have made incredible friends, seen amazing places, learned more about history than I ever knew I wanted to learn but more importantly, I became someone I never thought I’d be. London has truly and positively changed my life in more ways that are imaginable.
Though this experience thus far has been amazing, all semester I had been dreading one time, the holiday season. I knew that this would be the true testament to my journey abroad. Early on in the semester, I had decided that I was going to remain in London for the entire 9 months of my stay and not head back to Minnesota for winter break. This was not a decision that came lightly by any means, however it was a decision that I had made to gain more experience outside of my comfort zone.
I quickly realized that I was not sure about my decision as my family started gathering together and posting pictures on Facebook (yes, Facebook can and will make you homesick). Luckily, I had received a few letters in the mail from my loved ones, and have been texting pretty often over break. This helped me to more forward in the days to come and remain excited about my free time in London.
Once Christmas Eve struck, I had my first skype with one of my best friends from home. I immediately started feeling my late arrival of homesickness. As the day went on, I tried to keep myself occupied by Christmas shopping, netflix and hanging out with friends.
Then Christmas day came along. My mom and sister woke up at 6am to skype with me and open up our Christmas gifts. This was a moment that I was extremely excited for however extremely nervous for as well. I was not sure I could hold back my tears of missing home. I got through it though, as many of you will do while abroad. My mom gave me a fantastic gift of a trip to Ireland as well as an ornament of my 2012 year.
The ornament made me realize something very special about my life. In the year of 2012 alone, my best friend got married, I picked a graduation date, I received an amazing internship opportunity, I turned 21, I had been to 4 states, 5 countries, and I had made the decision to study abroad. This has been a year of so many new experiences and opportunities.
It is important to take a step back, and realize what opportunities come about when you take every opportunity given. When looking back on this holiday season, I am not so sure that being homesick was what I needed to be worried about, but instead, taking my feelings and realizing how life changing all of my decisions of the year have been. I have made amazing friends from all over the world, I have seen more countries than many have seen in their lifetime and have experienced a whole new culture!
Studying abroad will change your life. I have yet hear of a bad experience while looking back on ones time abroad. I will cherish this year for the rest of my life. I cannot wait to see what another semester abroad brings me in the wonderful city of London, England.
Happy Holidays all! And remember, one year, is just one year. But one year can shape the rest of your life.