Who: Kelsey Richardson
Where: London, UK
When: Spring Semester 2019
Class: Arts in Society & Biblical Perspectives
I knew before I came to Samford that I was going to study abroad at some point! My older sister had gone to London her Junior year spring semester and fell in love with it. When the opportunity came for me to go this past spring semester, I took it. I couldn’t wait to spend an entire semester doing what I love most: traveling! This past semester was the most challenging and fulfilling season of my life. I met so many new people, went to so many amazing and beautiful places, and learned A LOT about myself and the world that’s out there waiting to be explored!
Top 5 favorite places:
London: There are so many fun things to do in London from Buckingham Palace to Notting Hill, Borough Market, Covent Garden, Tower Hill, Oxford Circus and so much more! There is so much to do in London that people say even if you lived there your whole life, you couldn’t see and do everything!
Spain: For our spring break, some of us decided to go to Spain! We went to Barcelona and Valencia, two absolutely beautiful cities filled with rich culture and delicious foods! We saw so much including the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the beach, the Gothic district, the City of Art and Sciences, and more!
Italy: On Easter weekend, I went to Venice, Florence, and Pisa! Italy has everything from history, to beautiful architecture, amazing food, and the BEST gelato in the world.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam is an extremely unique city with beautiful canals, the best stroopwafels ever, tulip fields, and the most bikes I have ever seen in one city. There’s so much to see and do and each street is more beautiful than the last.
Wales: For our class trip, we went to Wales where we did all things adventurous including cliff jumping, surfing, and hiking! My inner adrenaline junkie came out and I’ve never had so much fun in my life! There are beautiful cliffs, rocky beaches, and fields full of cows and sheep!
Tips for traveling abroad
- Always plan your trips in advance! Sometimes if you wait too long flights get too expensive. Also, make sure you plan every detail! Sometimes being spontaneous can be good, and other times you regret it!
- Do as much as you can but don’t get burnt out!
- Get out of your comfort zone! Don’t be afraid to try new things!
- GET A PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER!!!!! You will need it. Period.
- Always make sure you research public transport before traveling to any city. It’s always different the way people get around and you don’t want to end up in a sketchy taxi.
- Make sure you know currency exchange rates
- Also, buy adapters for both UK and EU
- It’s better to under-pack than overpack most of the time! Only pack things you know you will wear, need, or use!
- Make new friends, try new foods, go to new places!!!
- Ask Airbnb hosts and hotel front desks what they recommend you to see and do! Usually, locals know the best places!
Balancing Study with Abroad
Traveling is great, but don’t forget you’re not just there to travel but you’re also still in school!! Don’t travel every weekend and not do your homework til you get back on Sunday night at 2 a.m. from a trip (even though you probably will at least once)! Make sure you stay on top of your work while still traveling and having fun! I learned the best thing to do was to complete assignments on the day I got them or as soon as possible! If you get ahead, it leaves more time to travel on weekends and have fun during the week! At the same time, don’t only care about your school work!! You are also there to learn by exploring new places and learn about other cultures! You may learn more from traveling than sitting in a classroom!
I am NOT the homebody type and usually when I am at school, I rarely get homesick. However, I would be lying if I said you won’t miss home a bit while being abroad. I mean, when you’re in another country, halfway across the world, thousands of miles from home and your family and friends, it’s bound to happen! You may miss little things like driving, or your favorite restaurants, or your dog, and that’s completely okay and normal!! However, don’t let it ruin your time abroad. If you sit in your room missing home all the time, you won’t get to experience how wonderful studying abroad is! It’s okay to have hard days, but it’s so important to remember that you may never get the chance to travel the world again! So soak up every second and enjoy it!
My semester abroad is something that will shape the rest of my life. It was nothing like I planned, imagined, or ever could have expected. I don’t think I will ever be able to fully put into words what my semester abroad was but I know I will cherish my time in London forever. Studying abroad will push you to grow more than you ever have. It will get your out of your comfort zone and cause you to be independent, maybe for the first time in your life. London will always have a special place in my heart and I hope to be back again one day!! For now, I’m so glad to be home and back with all my zistas!!