Three-Letter Word to Describe Arrival Day

Headshot of  Emma Crawford.
Emma Crawford
January 13, 2023
image of digital screen of the flight map on airplane


This three-letter word pretty much sums up how I am feeling since arriving in London on Tuesday. Due to shock, exhaustion, a jam-packed schedule, and jet lag, I am writing this on Friday, my fourth day here. I don't think it's possible that I've ever experienced this many emotions in such a short time before. I have felt on cloud nine, but also deep in the trenches of sadness and anxiety due to change and homesickness. I’ve watched and read a lot of other people's first-day experiences, and while I don't think I'm alone in feeling the way I did on my first day, it's not often that people express the hardships honestly. I thought I would explain my whole first day in terms of emotions and how they have changed with time. 

My flight touched down in the U.K. at Heathrow airport at 8:36 in the morning United Kingdom time, which would be 3:36 a.m. back home. I was so excited to finally be in London after all of these months of waiting, but god was I exhausted. Heathrow was a total dream of an airport experience and that alleviated so much initial stress. I made my way out of Heathrow and into an Uber, and this is where exhaustion hit me like a truck. I told my friends and family who texted me for updates all the same message, “Everything's great but I've never been this tired in my life.” That was initial struggle #1: fighting through extreme exhaustion. If I had to give one recommendation to this it would be to try your absolute hardest to sleep on the plane (whatever it takes) and dual drink some caffeine and water ASAP after you land. 

Once I arrived at my accommodation, the day seemed to fly by. Also, something to keep in mind, the sun sets a bit earlier in the U.K. than back on the east coast in America! So the day seemed to be over as soon as it began. IES Abroad did a great job of keeping us busy through the first few days so we had something to do and we didn't fall asleep at 3 p.m.! I had a walking tour with my group at 1 p.m. and we took the tube for the first time! It was very exciting to immediately hop on the tube soon after I arrived here. I met some people and did some shopping around for the essentials that I needed for my room.

After the walking tour and doing some shopping, my body started to cave in a bit. I was so, so tired, dehydrated, and hungry. I had taken a minute to lie in my room before I decided to grab the first food that comes to mind when I think of comfort: McDonalds. I know, how American of me. I sat in the McDonalds after getting a bit lost on the way and just wanted to cry. I felt so many emotions and feelings at once I was starting to overflow. Coming alone to a brand new country for the first time while being someone whos very close to their family is a very difficult reality to face.

On my way back to my accommodation after dinner, I knew jet lag had won the battle. I urgently came back and got ready for bed. Now, here's the kicker, I slept from 6:30 p.m. - 8:40 a.m. the next day. Yes, I know it's crazy. Honestly, I know a lot of people recommended avoiding sleeping until a normal time as much as you can, but honestly, I don't regret going to sleep that early. I took the time to listen to my body and what it needed and that worked out perfectly for me! 

I won't lie, these past couple of days have not been all sunshine and rainbows. Being someone with some harsh anxiety, I have definitely shed some tears and had some restless nights. However, the good times severely outweigh the bad. I write this post because, over the past couple of days, I have searched desperately for something just like this to make me feel less alone. It can be isolating and harmful to watch and compare yourself to other people who are perceived to be having the best time ever right away. Be patient with yourself in the beginning and know that things will get better with time!

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Headshot of  Emma Crawford.

Emma Crawford

Hi! My name is Emma Crawford. I'm a sophomore comm studies major from Pennsylvania and Ill be studying abroad in London. I am a lifelong Swiftie, lover of coffee, and always down to try something new. I am so excited to explore London and other countries in Europe!

2023 Spring
Home University:
University of Pennsylvania
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