London, you stole my heart.

I went into this study abroad trip anxious about flying internationally by myself, being in a city I am not used to, and all the while trying to do well academically (as well as socially).

Now, I wish I had opted for a longer trip. I also wish I had taken more solo bus trips while eating pain au chocolate.

The culture shock curve they show in pre-departure orientation is pretty spot on: I arrived and was in awe/in love with everything I saw in the city, then had a bit of troubling adjusting with some differences (like heavy reliance on walking as transportation), and then a nice level of love and admiration for the city and those who dwell in it.

It is such an unusual and irreplaceable experience to study abroad. For me, I knew no one doing the same program as I was, so I was unsure who I would meet and hang out with. Turns out many people who study abroad are in the same boat. Everyone walked around the dorms the first day just introducing themselves (I was told so many names that I had to be retold at later dates so I would not forget). Being abroad with people I had just met kind of forced us to become close and friendly quickly in a way – and we all loved it!

To spend over three weeks getting to know a group of people so well and adventuring and experiencing the city together, knowing that after the time is over you may never have that sort of experience with them again is a feeling like no other. We all felt an urgency to see and try different things and foods, but also to learn about each other and enjoy the fleeting time we had as us, together in those moments.

It was the type of memories that are captured in pictures, and reminisced about years later.

And I loved every minute of it.