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### Study Abroad Tips for a 20-Year-Old Explorer

It was the 9th of June around 3 a.m., and I found myself lying in my new bed, gazing at the ceiling. My body was drenched in sweat due to the absence of air conditioning, my eyes wide open as my internal clock insisted it was still 9 p.m., and the predominant thought in my mind was, “What have I gotten myself into?”

Before starting college, I wouldn’t have labeled myself as a homebody. However, over the past three years at UGA, I’ve developed a strong inclination towards returning to my hometown and relishing the comfort of my own bed. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Athens and the college experience. Yet, there are moments when nothing beats the familiarity of home. In an effort to break out of my comfort zone and embrace new challenges, I decided to embark on a six-week study abroad program in London, UK, last summer. Leading up to the program, I was brimming with excitement at the prospect of immersing myself in a different country, securing an internship, and exploring Europe.

Traveling has been a constant in my life, thanks to numerous family trips within the US. My relationship with Southwest Airlines is not merely long-standing but deeply affectionate. Nevertheless, flying solo internationally and being away from my family in a foreign land for an extended period was uncharted territory for me. Naturally, as the departure date drew near, a sense of trepidation crept in.

Looking back six months later, I can confidently affirm that studying abroad was a pivotal decision in my college journey. While I may not consider myself a seasoned traveler, I’ve compiled some valuable advice for those contemplating or preparing for a study abroad experience.

  1. Embrace the Unfamiliar: Expect to find yourself in uncomfortable situations during your time abroad. Whether it’s grappling with a language barrier or drawing attention for sporting athletic attire on London streets (a fashion faux pas I quickly learned), these moments are integral to personal growth. Embrace the discomfort, as it often leads to the most profound transformations.

  2. Prioritize Planning: Reflecting on my time abroad, I wish I had planned my weekend getaways more meticulously. While the spontaneity of impromptu trips to Paris, Edinburgh, and various English cities brought excitement and laughter, pre-planning would have saved both time and money, alleviating the stress of last-minute arrangements in a foreign land.

  3. Document Everything: One of the enduring benefits of my study abroad experience is the extensive list of recommendations I’ve compiled for London. Not only does it serve as a handy guide for friends planning future visits, but it also preserves cherished memories of places visited and experiences shared.

  4. Just Do It!: This advice extends beyond the overarching decision to study abroad to encompass everyday choices. If you’re on the fence about a particular activity, restaurant, or excursion, take the leap. Studying abroad enriches your global perspective, exposes you to diverse cultures, and enhances your academic prowess. Seize every opportunity, big or small. For instance, our spontaneous decision to visit Buckingham Palace during King Charles’s birthday celebration turned into a memorable encounter with the Royal Family—a moment I’ll forever treasure.

In conclusion, embrace risks and seize opportunities while you’re young and exploring the wonders of London!

Warm regards,

Hannah King

Editor: Grace Maneein