I’ve always been someone who loves to travel, so it’s no surprise that I made the decision to study abroad during my junior year of college. In fact, the only issue I had in the whole study abroad process was choosing where I wanted to study. The world was my oyster – I could choose some place close to home, like Washington D.C., or I could travel over 10,000 miles and go as far as Australia. In the end, I wound up choosing a location somewhere in between those two extremes – London, England.
I chose London for two main reasons. First, since I am studying economics at Colgate, I wanted to go somewhere I could get some of my major requirements out of the way. As luck would have it, it just so happens that the Colgate Economics Department offers a study group for economics majors that goes to London. Secondly, I wanted to go somewhere in Europe so I could travel to other countries on the weekends. People always told me that once you get to Europe, it’s so easy to get to the places that you’ve always dreamed of visiting, which is exactly what I wanted to do. So personally, London seemed like a great fit for me.
At the end of August, I landed in London. Arriving in a large city like London was kind of intimidating at first. Between trying to learn how much each coin is worth to pay the proper amount (England has eight coins that are all worth different amounts), to trying to fit in with the quirky “London fashion,” to trying not to get hit by big red buses or run over by numerous bicyclists, I felt out of place. Aside from weekend trips to New York City, I haven’t had a lot of exposure to such environments, and Colgate’s rural setting also didn’t help, so I was not sure what to do or how I would navigate London. Feeling a little lost and unsure of what to do with myself, I tried to get out and explore this busy city that I was going to call my home for the next four months.
I honestly had no idea what to expect during my short time in London. I knew what classes I was taking, but I had no idea what my schedule was going to be like or how hard the classes would be – all I knew was that I had no classes on Fridays. Turns out, that was the only information I needed because then I could start planning my weekend trips to other countries – Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, here I come! I was just looking forward to doing the two things I love: learning and traveling.
After my first month here, I can officially say that I am starting to get into my groove. I’ve figured out how the “tube” works, found the shortest paths to all my classes and have even found the best coffee shops in town. In just the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I’ve begun to realize that although Colgate isn’t even remotely similar to London, my life here is starting to resemble my life back in Hamilton. For example, my roommates have slowly become my best friends – we eat pretty much every meal together, go to every class together, hang out together and basically just spend all of our free time together. I’ve even found “The Jug” of London – a place called “The Roxy,” which is a small nightclub that plays the best dancing music and is only a short five-minute walk from my flat.
So yes, the adjustment from my Colgate life to my London life was a hard one. I can honestly say that I love London, and I am extremely grateful to have the fantastic opportunity to travel across Europe and explore all these new places. However, no matter how much I love a city halfway across the world, I miss Colgate and the Colgate community. As much as I’m looking forward to the next three months in London, I’m also looking forward to heading home at the end of this experience.