The day started like any other day. I woke up, took the train to school, went to class, stopped at the grocery store, and took the train back home. But instead of ending my Thursday by meeting friends for dinner or doing homework, I packed a bag and went to the airport. After a very quick, two-hour flight, I landed in London.
As my plane touched down, I had one of those moments where I had to stop and reflect on how surreal study abroad feels sometimes. During the semester at Ithaca College, flying to a different country is not a typical Thursday afternoon activity. But for under 100 euros and minimal travel time, I was suddenly in a new city in a new country.
I wasn’t just in London to take advantage of the free museums and drink copious amounts of tea. I was in London to meet up with two friends who are studying there this semester. The first friend I was visiting was my friend Skylar. Skylar and I both grew up in Buffalo, and we were best friends in middle school. Even though we went to different high schools and colleges, we’ve stayed very close over the years. The second friend I was visiting was my friend Nicole. I met Nicole sophomore year of college when we both worked for the school newspaper, and we quickly became close friends.
Nicole and Skylar spent the weekend bringing me to their favorite restaurants, giving me tours of monuments and going to the museum with me. It was great exploring London with people who knew their way around, but my favorite part of the trip wasn’t the city. Seeing old friends reminded me how invaluable close friendships are. For the first time in weeks, I didn’t need to preface my stories explaining who I was talking about or answer the question “Where are you from?” for the millionth time. As Skylar and I walked to Buckingham Palace, we laughed about things that happened in middle school and talked about our families with ease. Nicole and I talked about Ithaca and shared inside jokes as we sat on the tube.
Going abroad is filled with new experiences. New cities, new languages, new foods, and meeting lots of new people, both in your program and when you travel. I’ve loved moving to Berlin, since every day is filled with new experiences, and I’ve made friends from all over the world. I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to have the opportunity to study in abroad, since it is not an opportunity afforded to everyone. I’ve learned to feel comfortable doing things by myself and starting a conversation with a group of strangers. But as I laughed with my old friends in a new city, I realized traveling the world is a lot more fun with the people you love.