I was very unsure at first, but now I could not be happier with the experience I had.
Deciding to live away from home for college is a nerve-wracking, life-changing decision in itself. Incoming students leave the comfort of their own homes and learn to become self-sufficient. All of a sudden, you are expected to take care of yourself and make more of your own decisions. It is certainly a very large transition from being at home, but imagine replacing the personal bubble of campus life with the entire continent of Europe.
Personally, before studying abroad, I was finally acclimated to college life and living on my own. I was very involved on campus and finally found my place in it. I was part of executive boards of several clubs and I was involved in the school newspaper and several other organizations. As a result, I made a lot of new friends and all of a sudden, college exceeded my expectations.
At the same time, studying abroad was something that I wanted to do for as long as I can remember. If anything, I was more excited and motivated to go at the start of college as opposed to the semester before I departed for London. Once I created my life on campus, I wanted to stay in my comfort zone in which I saw my friends every day and was doing what I loved. While completing my study abroad application, I second-guessed myself a countless amount of times. However, I ultimately decided to go through with it because it was quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I felt that I would regret it forever if I passed it up.
Admittedly, I have a large Fear of Missing Out. I always prefer to be where the action and fun are, and I felt that being away for an entire semester would make me miss a variety of lifelong memories with my friends. Even though I thought about all of the events I missed on campus from time to time, I made a lot of lasting memories through travel with many new friends that I made while studying abroad.
After only a couple of weeks into my semester studying abroad, I knew that I made the right decision. I felt extremely fortunate to be traveling throughout Europe inexpensively for an extended period of time. I have learned so much about myself and in general just from traveling.
Not only do I feel more confident and independent since I traveled to different countries throughout Europe practically every other week, but I believe that I can better adapt to cultures that surround me. I have experienced and learned several nuances of European culture that I did not know existed. For instance, eating at a restaurant anywhere in Europe will never be a rushed experience. Europeans value more leisure time and a relaxing atmosphere, which is the complete opposite of a New York lifestyle.
Additionally, especially for foreign language students familiar with a variety of languages, it is easy to immerse oneself into the culture by speaking the country’s language. This is good for both social interactions with people across the globe and to improve one’s skills in speaking a different language. The citizens will also greatly appreciate a young American student striving to communicate with them in their language, rather than trying to find someone who speaks English.
I have come to learn that no matter what, life goes on back at school without me, just like how life goes on at home while I am at school. This may sound pessimistic, but it is not a bad thing because I know that the Binghamton campus along with my friends and extracurriculars will be there next semester. For some people that I know who just graduated, I will still keep in touch with them as well. I also found time to communicate with my friends back home while I was in London.
Although I am ready to go back to school and become involved again, I already want to go back to Europe now that I am home. One of my new lifetime goals is to go back to Europe one day and potentially live in London. I fell in love with practically everything about London except the weather, from the culture to the beauty to the atmosphere.
Coming from someone who has been through separation due to study abroad, it is worth taking the experience of a lifetime, as long as you have the desire to do so.