Ladies and Gentlemen, We’re Clear for Takeoff

Hello Readers,

My name is Jennifer Saporito and in one week (yes one week FINALLY) I am going to be studying abroad in London, England. I am so excited for what this semester has to offer. Not only am I going to be studying abroad, but I’ll also have an international internship since I’m doing the business school’s UF in London program.

Basic facts to know about Jennifer:

  1. She is not afraid to occasionally talk in third person.
  2. She is a Finance major.
  3. She is a sophomore (with senior standing…but aren’t we all? Thanks high school.)
  4. She loves British culture.
  5. She has never been out of the country before, so get ready world.
  6. She can make any simple story become incredibly dramatic and hilarious.
  7. She will share her fabulous adventures AND her awkward encounters (there will be many of them unfortunately).
  8. She bought a Polaroid camera for her trip to take pictures of European cities and landmarks with the intention of creating a wall of cute photos.
  9. She is going to a country where its inhabitants speak the same language as her so she hopefully won’t be too lost.
  10. She likes even numbers.

Hopefully you all understand me a little bit more after reading some of my basic facts. If you don’t, well then get in line because I am a crazy whirlwind of energy that can’t be stopped; but, I promise you I’ll be very entertaining along the way. I cannot wait to explore the world and get a better understanding of how cultures interact with one another. I also really am looking forward to my international internship. As of right now, I still do not know who I will be interning with; however, as soon as I figure it out, all of you will be the first to know.

In the next few paragraphs I am going to talk about random thoughts that have crossed my mind with one week left until my program starts.  Some are very small and insignificant and others are very large and will really impact my study abroad experience.

With the holidays over, I can finally focus on packing for my four-month long excursion.  I only asked for items I could use in London for Christmas this year.  Therefore, I received a heavy duty winter coat, boots, and long sleeve shirts.  Prior to last month, I did not own a single long sleeved shirt.  These are the problems associated with living in Florida for your entire life.  I am so excited for colder winter temperatures and the ability to dress up in cute sweaters and jeans while actually experiencing seasons. To me, the four seasons are: cooler dryer air (winter), less hot temperatures (spring), OH MY GOSH I CAN’T BREATHE (summer), and ewww it’s still hot (fall).  However, London temperatures are much different from typical Florida temperatures thankfully.  I cannot wait to live in a different climate in only one week.

Another change I realized that I am going to experience is actually living in a major city.  So far, I have lived in Orlando suburbs and Gainesville (which is moderately ‘country’).  I have never lived or worked in a large city before.  But, my parents are born-and-raised New Yorkers so I’m hoping that the city life survival is in my blood.

At this point, I have already said many farewells to friends.  Many of them ask me before we part if I am nervous at all.  I respond that I am not nervous in the slightest.  People wonder if I am going to be okay on my own in a new country and I assure them that I am too excited to even be nervous at all. But, sometimes I try to step back from everything and think:  “Am I nervous”?  My answer up to this point has been “No”.  I know a lot about the traveling that I want to do- I even bought two travel books.  The most nerve-wracking event I could think of is the flight over and the train ride to Metrogate (my residence hall) with all of my luggage. However, I lucked out and got two other students doing my program on the same flight as me.  Therefore, we’re all going to struggle and get lost together.  I do not see myself getting that lost in London because we have very detailed orientations the first four days we are in town and I am quite good with directions.  The amount of preparation that has gone into this event is enormous.  I am not nervous because I know that the results of planning something this large will be incredible.

One last change I know that I will definitely experience in London is the housing situation.  All real estate in London is prime real estate.  This means that if you have a building in the city you probably do not have that much space to go along with it.  In one week, I will be living in a triple. Yes, I will have two other roommates in a room that is probably smaller than the one single bedroom I have to myself at home.  However, I like to think that I am pretty good at sharing.  Last year, I shared a bedroom with one other girl (my best friend now) and a kitchen and bathroom with three other girls.  Life was easy for us and I never had the traditional 50 girls to one bathroom college experience.  However, in London I get to share a kitchen with my entire floor.  I am unsure about the bathroom situation but I know I will be sharing one with at least my two other roommates.  From what I’ve been told by previous students, we’re going to be living in each other’s pockets.  There’s not much room to breathe but everyone comes away with lifelong friends in the end.  I believe it too.  There will be 16 other UF students living on my floor and going on this journey with me.  By the end of it, I will have many memories with these strangers that I do not even know the names of right now.

I know that everything is going to be different in London.  People, customs, food, central air conditioning, everything will be different.  However, I’m going to learn how to take it all in and then thrive.  Here’s to a semester of trying new things, making new friends, exploring new cities, and laughing at myself during the whole process. I absolutely cannot wait.  In just one week, we will be clear for takeoff.

Please stay tuned in,

Jennifer Saporito

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