When making the decision to study abroad in London, England I did not think that I was going to change very much as a person or develop myself in anyway. This is because English was the native language and I visit my family in Ireland each year. In my first few weeks I learned how diverse the city is, and how many people are not originally from England. I felt as though my previous travels had prepared me for this experience. However, I did grow as a person and believe I understand parts of the world much better now. I consider London the melting pot of Europe. It was an incredible opportunity to meet people from all over the world. My expectations were that I would make a ton of friends with stereotypical British “bloats” attending the same university as me because I would be immersed with English people in my school. The reality of the situation was much different than my expectations. I did however make friends with students from other countries outside the UK and even Europe. Although London seemed to lack its own unique culture, it had cultures from around the world that united it to make it one of the best cities I have ever lived in. From the people to the food, there was always something new to see, taste, or learn.
Adding to this incredible experience, I was absolutely blessed with my living situation. In planning my study abroad semester, there was a mishap of communication with my advisors and I was not able to live in the popular living situation for international students. It took hours of research and across the pond phone calls in the middle of the night until I found the right place to live. It was a private apartment with one Chico State and a Dutch student. It was located in the beautifully hip central London area of Clerkenwell. Each afternoon it was filled with businessmen in suits taking their lunch breaks at the local gastropubs. In addition to the location, living with someone from The Netherlands was an eye-opening and fabulous experience. When telling my friends and family about Marjolein, I explain that she had a larger culture shock living with us American women than actually living in the city of London. Living with her allowed me to become familiar with the Dutch culture and get an idea of how some people perceive Americans. At times, we found ourselves overwhelming her and it allowed us to take a step back and adjust to her quiet and laid back personality. Sometimes the language barrier put a wall between us, but overall I believe I gained a lifelong friend. It was great to get to know the city and be able to put my head down and know exactly what tube line I needed to catch. The fast paced life style and tube etiquette became part of my life. There were moments I forgot where I was because of the near sprinting from point A to point B. Some days I enjoyed taking things slow, and would not mind how much of a tourist I looked like. It was a different world than our beautiful little college town, and I appreciate this town more than ever. Overall, I have no complaints about London, and wouldn’t change my time there for anything.