The process that I have been dreading has slowly started to begin. My parents are discussing my return flights, my friends are counting down the remaining days, and professors are assigning final exams and papers. Sure, I'm excited to reunite with my family and friends and get back to my university campus...but I'm nowhere near ready to return home! I feel like there is so much more to London that I haven't seen yet and I'm trying to do everything that I can in the remaining few weeks that I have here. In the past couple weeks I've explored Notting Hill (and hoped that I would run into Hugh Grant at the little book shop...but sadly I did not), ate my way through Borough Market, and saw a few West End shows and operas, but I still have so many more things to do on my London bucket list!
These past few weeks have taught me a lot about time that I think could really benefit anyone who is considering studying abroad, who is currently studying abroad, or who just wants to hear what I have to say!
1. Don't rush through things
When walking through London (especially in the tube...) I always feel like I'm being rushed. Everyone is running to work, running to class, or just running for no reason. There have been so many times where I've found myself speed walking down the street to somewhere that I'm not even in a rush to get to! Sure, it can be slightly annoying when you actually are in a rush to get somewhere and the people on the sidewalk in front of you are walking ridiculously slow (it's kind of a pet peeve) but I've started to really envy and admire these people. So instead of speed walking everywhere and rushing every time you walk out the door, take your time. People may get angry and have to walk around you, but you won't be missing out on anything that is happening around you. Since I've began taking my time and absorbing everything around me, I've starting noticing so many amazing things about the city that I never noticed before. The street performers, the beautiful buildings, and the different types of people around me...London has so much to offer!
2. Put your phone away!
Although some of my Facebook friends may say that I'm being a bit hypocritical by saying this (considering all of the reindeer selfies that I just posted...) I think it's an important thing to mention. At home, I'm constantly updating statuses, sending texts, and taking SnapChat selfies, however having to rely on wifi since arriving here has changed my outlook a lot on technology. When you're not constantly staring at a phone screen, you really do see and learn so many new things. My navigational skills have improved, I've had so many meaningful conversations with people that I never would've met had my face been glued to my phone screen, and I've started to appreciate the beautiful things around me rather than just snapping a picture. So I dare you to put away your phone and start enjoying what is around you. Even though a picture can be worth a thousand words, a memory is worth a million!
3. Don't take time for granted
Again, I know this is a cliche but I can't express how true it is. When I arrived here I thought I had allll the time in the world, but as the weeks passed and I began to see all that London had to offer, I realized that this wasn't the case. Living in such a large city I realized that there is always something new to see, do and experience, and to be honest...it's really difficult to experience it all. If I were home I would probably be binge watching Friends on Netflix or lying in bed listening to the Hamilton cast recording on repeat, but now that I'm abroad I know this is valuable sight-seeing, concert-going, firework-watching time.
With only a few weeks left in this incredible city, I'm doing everything I can do soak up every minute of it. And I hope that when I go back to the states I'll continue to notice all of the beautiful, incredible things happening around me that I may not have noticed before!
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<p>Natalie Walden is a Junior at Penn State University, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in International Studies and Vocal Performance. On any given day, you can find her around campus singing with her a cappella group or drinking Jamba Juice at one of the HUB tables. She is a brother of Phi Sigma Pi honors fraternity and one of the THON chairs of the Oriana Singers and Glee Club THON organization. Her talents include impersonating Britney Spears/Shakira and binge watching shows on Netflix (which she will not be doing much of while abroad...). Natalie has never been to Europe before and can't wait to share all of her amazing adventures across the pond!</p>