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### FSU Study Abroad: Your Essential Survival Handbook

This article is authored by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

During the previous summer, I had the thrilling (albeit daunting) chance to engage in Biology studies in London through FSU’s International Programs (IP) for a duration of eight weeks. While in London, I delved into Genetics and Human Physiology under the guidance of exceptional professors in a stunning city. I acquired a wealth of knowledge, familiarized myself with British slang, exceeded my expected walking distances, and consumed copious amounts of tea, particularly Earl Grey. As the program drew to a close, I was astounded by the breadth of my experiences yet taken aback by the state of my finances (which are still on the mend). Reflecting on the entire journey post-completion allowed me to recognize certain intrinsic traits about myself, notably my proclivity for meticulous planning. But enough about my personal reflections; here are the insights I wish I had possessed beforehand.

1. Additional Expenses Are Not Covered by FSU

Your tuition encompasses academic fees, accommodation, and some fundamental living essentials like a preloaded London public transport card (commonly referred to as an Oyster card). Let me be candid—my Oyster card ran dry before the fifth week, failing to accommodate the excursions organized by our program. This scenario likely applies to other study abroad destinations, where provisions are made for the prevalent mode of transportation. If London is your chosen city, I suggest opting for bus rides or walking to economize your funds.

2. Preplanning Trips Before Arrival Is Challenging

I harbored the expectation of receiving a detailed day-to-day itinerary months ahead, enabling me to meticulously plan weekend escapades across Europe and structure my summer activities with precision. However, reality deviated significantly from this anticipation.

The itinerary only reached me approximately a week before my departure from the U.S. Despite having an Excel spreadsheet meticulously outlining planned trips with cost breakdowns and flight schedules ready for booking, I executed merely one out of the six envisioned journeys. For fellow planners, this deviation may be disheartening, but rest assured, opportunities for exploration will still present themselves!

3. Homesickness Is Inevitable

Despite my enthusiasm for the overseas adventure and the allure of a new environment, moments arose when all I yearned for was a taste of my dad’s chicken pot pie and the comforting sound of my mother’s humming while she folded laundry. Establishing a sense of connection with loved ones becomes notably challenging when you find yourself 4,000 miles away, relying on WhatsApp for communication. I vividly recall an instance in Spain, where a song shared with my mother played on my Spotify at the airport, triggering an emotional outpour amidst a crowd of bemused onlookers. The emotional reunion with my parents upon my return was marked by heartfelt embraces.

4. Embrace the Novel Environment

Countless instances found me engrossed in studies within my flat, only to realize the vast expanse of the city awaiting exploration. Venturing into cafes, libraries, and museums for study sessions replaced the mundane setting of my flat. Unlike the guilt that may accompany diverting from academic pursuits in Tallahassee, London fosters a culture that encourages exploration. Your professors actively support your endeavors to immerse yourself in the city, striving for a holistic experience.

As an advocate for academic excellence, I urge you to prioritize experiential learning over rigid scholarly pursuits. While you may grasp the intricacies of the circulatory system in a classroom, the opportunity to witness the sunset over Big Ben en route to a performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” while savoring a cup of piping hot tea is a unique encounter worth seizing.


  • Opt for a 30-day EU SIM Card instead of daily phone service charges for cost efficiency.
  • Maintain a journal to capture the unpredictability of each day, allowing for nostalgic reflections in the future.
  • Apologies to cheese enthusiasts staying in London; British cheese varieties may not align with your palate, with Mozzarella being a notable exception.
  • Download an app that facilitates locating free water sources in Europe, addressing the challenge of staying hydrated.
  • Specify “tap” water preference at restaurants to avoid being served bottled “still” water that incurs charges.
  • Foster respectful interactions with flatmates or roommates, as harmonious communication is pivotal during extended cohabitation.

In conclusion, savor every moment of this distinctive experience, which will undoubtedly shape your memories for years to come. Embrace the highs and lows with adaptability as your ally, trusting in the unfolding journey. Each day offers new discoveries; seize the opportunity for exploration. Now, take the initiative to explore the IP applications and chart your course!

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