Bags are packed. Paperwork is printed. Do I feel ready yet? Not one bit.
Sorry for the clickbait, but I still have not found the cure to the pre-departure jitters. If there is one, I haven’t been able to find it through my hours of research. Believe me, I tried. It might feel impossible to prepare for almost four months abroad, but if I can do it, so can you.
Sorry, let’s rewind a bit. My name is Maddy and I am lucky enough to be chosen as a Correspondent for IES Abroad. This fall, well, in about 8 hours I leave for London. I went to Spain once for a high school class trip, but other than that I haven’t really gone much of anywhere that didn’t touch my home state of Massachusetts. With that said, this will certainly be an eye-opening experience for someone like me, and I am ready to share my journey with you all.
I’ve always secretly aspired to be some sort of blogger and share my experience with the world. Unfortunately, my nerves have always gotten the best of me and prevented this dream of mine from taking off. Being an IES Abroad Correspondent is exciting for me because I get to ease myself into this online platform, all while traveling Europe!
I’m not sure if I have gotten more nervous or more excited as September 2nd was approaching. There is definitely anxiety trying to combat my excitement, but that is to be expected. I am a 20-year-old student traveling halfway across the world for nearly four months. I have never been on a plane alone, or any form of public transportation by myself. In under 24 hours, I will have thrown myself into adulthood and independence, 3,300 miles from where I grew up. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. But to say I’m excited is also an understatement.
I will be living in Camden Town, on the new Camden Wharf in a two-bedroom apartment. Excuse me, a flat is what I meant. Camden is a trendy, multicultural district in London that is a known tourist spot due to the world-famous Camden Market. Lucky for me my apartment has a kitchen because there is no meal plan available. Other than the occasional babysitting gig, I have had no reason to cook thus far in my life. The cooking experience in itself shall be an interesting one that I plan to share.
Now, before I go, I will share a few tips that have helped me along the way in preparation for departure. It is definitely no “cure” to the jitters, but I hope it can help. I want my blog to become a first-time traveler’s guide to London!
1. Keep up with the paperwork, whether this is through the IES Abroad website, your home school, etc. There are a lot of formalities that must be completed before you arrive. If you are a person like me, deadlines weigh on your shoulders until they are met, and sleepless nights ensue. Stay on top of the paperwork and deadlines (especially for your Visa)!
2. Use www.studentuniverse.com for booking flights. Student discounts are the best! I highly recommend booking flights in advance, 40-45 days before departure seem to be the cheapest. Other websites such as Expedia can be good to compare prices before the final purchase.
3. Make your OWN packing list. I looked up tons of packing lists online, I watched YouTube videos, I looked at Pinterest, but nothing compares to making your OWN packing list. While it is great to hear advice from other Londoners, no list will have every single thing you personally need. Customize your own to include things that the internet left out, such as any prescription medication, contact lenses, etc. Make the list far in advance, then check it daily to see if there is anything new you thought of that day that might be important. With that said, try not to overpack and pack as lightly as possible. London is a city I can’t wait to explore and shop in, but that also means bringing the new clothes home. Double checking your list on another day is good just because a clear head can help you remember something important you wouldn’t have thought of the day before.
4. Learn what NOT to pack. You can buy shampoo, laundry supplies, and other large toiletries once you get there. There will not be room in your suitcase to pack everything. Limit the number of shoes if you are an addict like me. It will only be a few months before you are reunited!
5. Meal plan and BUDGET shopping! If you are like me and do not have a meal plan available while abroad, you probably can’t afford eating out every day. The country you study abroad in is likely not going to have the same stores that you shop at home in. Research the stores near you, look at prices online, and find one that is hopefully within walking distance of where you are living. The next step before you go is to collect a list of recipes and start making a meal plan for yourself. My favorite places to go were to YouTube, Pinterest, and of course my mom for some delicious and easy recipes! I would suggest picking 3 or 4 meals to make the first week you arrive and build your shopping list around those ingredients. This way, once you arrive in the new country, you will not be tempted to splurge at the store if you have a list of the things you actually need.
I hope these tips help you prepare to study abroad in London! Remember to take it all in and appreciate every moment because this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Now let’s talk later, I have a flight to catch!
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<p>Hi I'm Maddy! I am a rising junior at Providence College and I am from a small town in central Massachusetts. I am the middle of five kids in my family, but I am the first to be studying abroad! I love to run and I think that's a great way to explore and learn a new place (not to mention it is some time in peace away from the chaos of a busy house!). I also love reading, writing, and all things makeup. I have been to very few states in the U.S. that do not touch Massachusetts, but I once made my way to Spain for ten days.</p>