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The Weird Transition to Study Abroad and How to Make it Easier

I don’t think anyone expects the transition to studying abroad to be easy, though I actually wasn’t too worried about it. The biggest concern of mine was being able to meet people, as I was showing up to London last month knowing absolutely nobody. Being in a new place surrounded by new people can definitely seem daunting or overwhelming, but as someone who successfully navigated the transition, here’s what you can do to make it a little easier.

Solve your jetlag as fast as you can

Weirdly, jetlag always tends to make me emotional. On my second day here, I found myself crying over stupid little things like being mildly overwhelmed by a new grocery store. Do yourself a favor and invest in some melatonin, try to avoid naps on the first day, and get your sleep schedule on track to the new time zone as quickly as you can.

Do a little bit of research

I’d never been anywhere in Europe before this trip, let alone London, and I knew embarrassingly little about the city. I’ve learned a lot in the past month, but maybe I should’ve looked some of it up before I got here. I’d recommend googling things such as phone plans, tipping culture, and where the best nightlife is (for however you’re interested in spending your weekends) before you travel.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there

Meeting new people is hard, but that’s okay. If you’re studying abroad with no one you know (or even if you do already know people) just introduce yourself to everyone you meet! I know it can be daunting, but there’s not much to lose if a little conversation doesn’t go well. I got lucky and wound up with three random roommates I now consider good friends, but I’m also trying to meet people in my classes as much as I can. I promise everyone else is trying to make new friends too.

But also, don’t be afraid to do things by yourself

One of my bucket list items for this semester was to learn how to be okay going places alone. I’ve been to a few museums by myself, and just today I spent five hours doing homework in a bookstore cafe. It may seem hard at first to choose alone time when there’s so many people to meet, but personal reflection in public spaces can be so rewarding.

Invest in a journal

I bought a journal a few weeks before I left for London, and I’ve been so happy to have it just to keep track of everything I’ve been doing, even if I don’t have time to write down my emotions every day. I know I’ll be grateful to have it to look back on when the program ends and I want to remember everywhere I went.

Remind yourself that everyone on your program is going through the same thing

You’re not alone in the weirdness of the study abroad transition period. No matter how many friends or travel experience someone else is starting the semester with, there’s still something new for everyone to experience. You’re not the only one feeling weird, and I promise settling in will happen before you know it.

The weird transition to studying abroad is the small price to pay for what many people like to call their best semester of college. I’ve only been in London for a month, but I’ve made it through the transition period and I absolutely adore this city. I can’t wait to keep exploring it and keep making new friends.

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Gabrielle is a junior studying English at Boston University. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can find her listening to Taylor Swift, reading (or writing!) a YA novel, or exploring new places in Boston. You can follow her on insta @gabriellepeck15.
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