Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Studied Abroad

Today is the third anniversary of my departure from London after my semester studying abroad. I, for one, can't believe it's been that long... nor can I believe that I'm still sitting here talking about it after that much time. But here I am, writing a sappy post about it for the second year in a row. (At least I'm consistent, right?) So here are a few things I would've told 2012 Darci before she hopped on that plane to Heathrow, and a few things that I think future study abroad-ers should know!

Not every day is going to be worthy of a blog post. It is, in fact, possible to have a boring, regular day when you're living abroad. You'll go to class, and take naps that last too long, and stay in because you have a cold, and watch a lot of your favorite TV shows. You might be abroad, but it's still your life, and you're still the same person. You're not going to be immediately transported to this fantasy existence where you can have grand adventures every day and where school work doesn't exist. However...

You're going to have some of the best days of your life. While study abroad isn't a fantasy world, it is a world in which you can choose your own adventure! Volunteer with London 2012 Ceremonies. Take stage combat classes at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Spend every weekend visiting movie locations. Seriously, the world is your oyster! You could do the typical study abroad thing and just bum around and drink... or you could follow your passion and improve your life long-term and make yourself ridiculously happy. Your choice.

Wear good shoes when you know you're going to do a lot of walking. Past Darci, please listen to me: I don't care that those Converse go with everything, or that they're comfortable now. You know that when they start wearing out, they start destroying your feet. Do you really want those death traps on your feet when you're backpacking through Europe for two and a half weeks? Why did you think that was a good decision? More than three years later, your Achilles heel still occasionally aches because of that choice. Be good to your feet. Please.

You may not need people, but they'll make your experience all the more amazing. I went to London confident that even if I didn't make any friends, I'd have a perfectly great time. How could anyone have a bad time in London? But some of my most treasured memories have almost nothing to do with London and everything to do with the people I was with. I'm not sure how I managed to stumble into the most amazing friendships and working relationships, but I'm not going to question it. It's like the stars were aligned or something. However it happened, I found people that made it enjoyable to sort stacks of ID badges until my hands were rubbed raw, people I huddled with for warmth during a night spent sleeping outside on concrete, people I was content to hang out with in a (slightly gross) dorm kitchen with a few bottles of cider.

You're going to miss it every day for the rest of your life. Alright, I can only speak for three years after the fact. And maybe it's just me. But for real, I'm still pining for my old life in London and would hop on a plane there in a heartbeat if given the chance. So don't sign up to study abroad unless you're willing to sign up for a lifetime of missing it. (It's so worth it, though.)

Travel Tuesday

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  1. These are great tips! And I don't think they just apply to those studying abroad, either. If I ever move abroad, whether to study or not, I will remember these! Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. It is totally worth it, you're right! I hope you get to come back soon! :)

  3. Fully agree with each and everyone of those! Just so well said :) Also - I wish I knew how much I would bond with people and how much it would hurt to tell them goodbye at the end. Did not expect that at all!!