So it’s been a few days since I arrived to Manchester on Tuesday, and so far, I’m a whirlpool of emotions. Even when I got to the airport to leave Jacksonville, I was still in the -omg-I’m-leaving-the-country- mindset and the true reality of my trip did not set in yet. I got through the endless turbulence, airplane food, and off/on sleep to finally land in the Manchester International Airport. I begin to realize more and more that I’m all alone in a foreign country. On top of that, I’m here for 4. more. long. months. I found myself missing my home and my people much more than I could imagine. BUT, with that being said, I’m getting through it. I’ve come up with my own 3 survival steps that keep me going when I’m feeling down. I am still very much a work in progress here in Manchester. But the adjustment is part of the journey and at least I can successfully say I’ve survived my first week.
Be open to new people and new experiences.
All students attending the Alliance Manchester Business School on an exchange program are required to sit through an induction seminar. The schedule looked like the usual- filled with powerpoint presentations explaining the important info we need for the semester. And an icebreaker game, everyone’s favorite. I sat through the presentations dreading the game; I never have a fun enough fact for those things. I had no idea that icebreaker game would allow me to meet some amazing people from all over the world. Canada, France, Germany, Spain- we were all from different places but were brought together at this specific time in our lives. It was truly a fantastic experience learning about the differences and similarities of our lifestyles. From now on, I’ll be more open to new things (even icebreaker games), because I know that day was the start of some great friendships.
Embrace the solidarity, but not too much.
My first few hours in Manchester were definitely not as I expected. I was alone in my prison cell (flat) without a clue of what to do or where to go. I was tired, jet-lagged, hangry, and missing home. But, some of my flat mates happened to knock on my door in the middle of my pity party to say hi, and that was a huge turning point for me. I realized that, even though I enjoy being alone, I’m a people person through and through. I got out of my room and started to get to know my flat mates– who are some truly awesome and unique people. This has helped me tremendously, because the last thing I want to do is focus only on the countdown back to America.
Follow your gut instinct always.
This one has always been sort of a staple in my life. But, being in a foreign place with no one but me and google maps has amplified this concept a lot. From trying to navigate the bus system to deciding on what to eat, I’ve found that letting my instincts take over usually gives the best results. Unless we’re talking about the time when I went all the way into the heart of Manchester alone at night in search of tickets to see a 1975 concert that was already sold out. The gut success rate isn’t exactly 100%, but I’d say it’s pretty close.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Like I said, I’m a work in progress, but I know Manchester already has a big piece of my heart. Oh, and for those of you wondering: the countdown to America is 4 months, 12 days, and 23 hours. (!!!)