Dear future IES Abroad London students,
First of all, I would just like to say how jealous I am that you are about to spend a semester in the most amazing city in the world. Although I spent three months studying abroad London, it felt like only three days...or three hours even! After taking some time to process what I accomplished and experienced over the past semester, I realize now that I returned to the states a completely different person. To be honest, my return back to the U.S. was not an easy one. While you have the whole semester ahead of you, I just want to warn you about a few things that will happen once you return back to good 'ol US of A.
1. People in the U.S. drive on the right-hand side of the road. While this is one of the trickiest things to grasp when you arrive in London, where learning to cross the street is a difficult task, it also works in reverse. While going for a run the other day I found myself extremely confused as to which side of the street I was supposed to run on. After spending so much time in London though, looking in the correct direction before crossing the street became second nature. It's amazing to me how such a mundane task can differ depending on where you are in the world. Embrace it!
2. Moving back to Southeast Pennsylvania from such a huuuge city is a big change. Don't take for granted that you can walk almost anywhere in the city, or hop on the tube and within a matter of minutes, to see incredible, stunning architecture! While the U.S. does have a few architectural wonders, almost everywhere you go in London you can see different styles of architecture with a unique history. See as much of it as you can!
3. Although people mainly speak English in London, there's still a bit of a language barrier that you need to adjust to. After returning back to the states, I realised how many of the terms I picked up from living in the UK. From calling an elevator a lift to asking someone to top up my drink at a restaurant to even accidentally calling a dollar a pound, I didn't realize how natural these terms became for me until I used them here in the U.S. (and people seemed very confused by them...).
4. You will miss London. This is the biggest warning of them all. You will truly, desperately miss living in London. After 3 incredible months studying abroad, I formed an amazing connection to the city and all that it had to offer. I met some amazing people that I will always be able to share this experience with, and I gained a sense of independence that I didn't think I could! Almost every day my friends who I met through IES Abroad and I talk about all of the things that we miss about the city and reflect on the memories we made and moments we shared. Even though right now I may be feeling extremely nostalgic and even a little upset that I'm not returning next semester, London also created a desire within me. A desire that in the future I will return and experience the city once again! Hopefully after the next 3 amazing months you spend studying abroad in London you will feel this desire too.
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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>