I have now been home for a few days. This morning, I felt quite proud of myself for waking up at nine o’clock, a great improvement from waking up at four yesterday. So far, the change in time zones has been the biggest adjustment for me.
Besides having to get on a new schedule, I feel I am adjusting fairly well to being back. It has felt good and bad to not have a busy schedule. Mostly, though, it has felt great to be back home. Being back has given me some time to unwind and turn my brain off, but it has also given me time to look back on this incredible experience I have had.
As I mentioned in my last post, it feels like a lifetime has passed since I left for London. When I think back to that time, I think about how nervous I was to travel. While I had travelled alone before, I had never done anything like this, and I was very nervous about travelling internationally by myself.
After I made it to London and I got settled, things got easier. I remember being nervous about going anywhere in London by myself, but I very quickly got used to doing just that. I felt more at ease in London than I had in any other city, and I had some amazing days of exploring.
I was also thrown into history soon after landing in London. Just a few days after I arrived, Britain lost Queen Elizabeth II. It was a surreal experience as an American to be in Britain as they had this period of mourning. Shops were closed in observance of the loss, and all of London came to a standstill when it came time for the Queen’s funeral.
During this time, I also got to learn about the history of London as I was in the city. Being so close to the events I was studying was a very fun academic experience. I was also very grateful for the chance to learn the Oxford tutorial system before I went to St. Catherine’s.
When I got to St. Catherine’s, I would say there was a much longer period of adjustment than I had expected. Not only was I getting used to living in a new place once again, but I also was getting used to having two tutorials at once. It took time to figure out what was expected of me in each tutorial, and how to navigate them both.
I would say the midpoint of the term was where I struggled the most. I was getting burnt out by the repetition of the work I was doing. Papers were the only kind of assignment I had the whole term, with the exception of one presentation for my primary tutorial. It was tough doing the same assignment over and over, but it was also tough because each paper had an isolated prompt, so I was starting a new set of research each time.
However, I was still having an incredible experience. Shortly after arriving at Oxford, I had my unforgettable day trip to Geneva, and I was still taking time to see the sights around Oxford. My time at Oxford was an academic challenge, just as I had expected, and it was just a matter of figuring out how to manage the work.
My time with my family when they visited was just what I needed. I got to forget school for a few days, and we had truly unforgettable experiences in Paris and back at Oxford. After this, finishing the rest of the term was much easier.
It was great to end the term on a strong note, and before I left I had a couple days to myself. With this time, I got to see some of the sights in Oxford I had not had time to see, like the incredible Museum of Natural History. After that, I had to navigate travel arrangements one more time, this time to head home.
Already, I know the last few months will be one of the defining experiences of my life. Before I left, I had heard people saying they have pre- and post-studying-abroad selves, and I wasn’t sure if I believed it. Now, I definitely agree with them. I feel like a different person, and I know I do not want this to be the last time I have an incredible experience abroad.
I do not know when I will find myself in Europe again. If I had the opportunity to study in the UK once again, I would absolutely take it. All I can say is that to anyone who is thinking of studying abroad, I could not recommend it anymore. Find a place you have always wanted to see, and find a way to study what you love there.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would have this experience, I would have found it hard to believe that I had the confidence to do so. But I did have this experience, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more.
Thank you to anyone who took the time to read these posts. I hope my European adventure made for good reading.
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My name is Brady Judd. I am from Mill Creek, Washington, and I am a third-year history major at Whitworth University. As a history nerd, I am incredibly excited to be traveling to the UK. I have also long been a fan of British culture, watching shows like "Top Gear" and "Sherlock" as I grew up. I am an avid learner, so I can't wait to share all of the things I will be discovering with you.