If I had a dollar for every time I have said “Wow” or “This is amazing” in the past week, I would be rich enough to quit school and just travel the world for the rest of my life. While this past week has had its challenges, I am in awe of the beauty and history this world has to offer.
My quote for this study abroad adventure is “The world is our classroom and we are its students.” Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to learn about your host country both inside and outside the classroom. In this past week alone, I have been taught so many lessons.
Before making my way to Granada, my group and I had the opportunity to visit the magnificent and bustling city of London. While a city cannot possibly be covered in two days, we did our best to expose ourselves to every corner imaginable. In London, I learned three valuable life lessons. Here is what I like to call my “London Lessons.”
Go with the flow
London hit me with this one before I even got there. I do not know if you all were following the news, but the day I was flying into London, Heathrow’s IT completely shut down. This created an absolute nightmare for not only the airline I was flying with, but also the organization I was going through, AIFS. My flight got delayed almost five hours and when I got off my connecting flight I was greeted by a flight attendant who said that my flight got changed completely. I was now on a different flight, with a different airline, and arriving at a different time than I had told AIFS. After landing in London, the madness continued. I did not get through customs until almost three hours after my flight had landed and my poor driver had to wait in order to take me to the hotel. (Luckily, he was patient and did not leave me.) When I got to the hotel, I was basically told that we had the whole day to travel the city by ourselves but our rooms would not be ready until 3 pm. We got to the hotel at 9 am. Exhausted, confused, and slightly irritated I was given my first impression of studying abroad.
What did I learn from all of this? Life is so much smoother when you just roll with the punches and course correct when necessary. It is very easy to complain and get grumpy, but instead I challenge you to recognize that everything happens for a reason. While I do admit I initially was frustrated, I almost immediately changed my attitude from “Why don’t they have anything organized?” to “I have the freedom to explore London at my own pace.” For the next 48 hours, I tried to cover as much of London as I possibly could and enjoy the adventure.
Being forced to self navigate in an unfamiliar city (and country for that matter) instilled me with the confidence that I would need to thrive in Granada. In the moment it was frustrating, but I am eternally grateful that I arrived to Granada confident and ready for adventure.
If there is a time difference, stay up as long as possible.
Time change is no joke. Sincerely friends, if it is daylight in the place where you are staying you need to fight your desire to sleep. Trust me, I wanted nothing more than to get off the plane and sleep the day away. Luckily, prior to leaving I confided in some frequent traveler acquaintances and decided to stay up until it was considered a reasonable hour to fall asleep. The first day it will feel like torture, but trust me your body will thank you.
Always go off the beaten path, it is amazing what you will find.
The second day I was in London, I met up with a friend, who is currently studying abroad there, to walk through the Kensington residential area. Honestly, this was my favorite part of the London trip because I got to experience a part of the city that most travelers do not have the time nor desire to go to– a neighborhood. Around every corner, there were beautiful alleyways, hidden gardens, and magnificent houses. Without the help of my friend, I never would have guessed that such a quiet and quaint area was only minutes from the bustling main road. With this walk, I felt as though I had truly experienced everything that London had to offer. In Granada, I can only hope I have more experiences like this one.
Overall, my study abroad adventure is off to a great start. I can only imagine the different lessons that I will have learned by the end of my experience. I am very excited for what is to come!
*Stay tuned in the next couple days for updates from Granada*