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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

Cheers to studying abroad!

Instead of writing this article from my cozy bedroom in Kingston, Ontario, I am sitting at my desk in my new apartment in Leicester, England, feeling jet lagged, yet really happy (yup, I’m in the UK for the first time since I was one year old — EEEEK!!!!!).

As an essentially first-time visitor to the UK, I was completely unsure of what I was getting myself into when I booked my plane ticket. My parents lived in London when they were in their mid-20s, and besides the occasional news about the Royal Family and the Instagram Reels my mum sends me about Borough Market and its amazing food, I honestly didn’t know much about what the UK would be like as a university student and wannabe-traveler.

I am now one week into my exchange, and although classes haven’t started yet, I have already learned so much. Not only have I brushed up on my history lessons (thank you, Lonely Planet travel book), but I’ve also been pushed far out of my comfort zone in only 7 days. Here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. You’re gonna be tired. Like, REALLY tired.

When I first came to the UK, the excitement of being here definitely masked my jet lag. I found this out the hard way when, 3 days into my exchange, I suddenly couldn’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. and started waking up around 12 or 1 p.m. every day. Although I’ve now mostly adjusted to the 5 hour time difference from Toronto, this was a part of the journey that I didn’t quite take into consideration. As someone who loves to go to bed early (I’m currently in my grandma era, and I’m very happy about it), I was initially frustrated by this. However, taking melatonin helped me fall asleep during those first few nights. Additionally, having a BIG nap on the first day helped more than I can say. I had been up for almost 22 hours by the time I finally got to my accommodations and although the day was just starting in London, my body believed that it was still in Toronto where it was 5 a.m. After I slept, I was finally able to go into London and see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace — places I had dreamt of seeing all my life. Like I said, the power of a good nap can’t be understated!!!

2. The UK is expensive — and a budget is key

I already thought groceries were expensive in Canada, but then I bought bread, granola, and hummus for about CAD$20. Conversion rates are crazy! Thankfully, you can find a lot of good deals on groceries and essentials, like pillows and a duvet, at the nearest supermarket for less than £20 altogether. Cheap-and-cheerful places like Primark are fantastic; they have a wide selection of things you didn’t realize you needed, such as towels and duvet covers (essential after sleeping with the aforementioned $8 duvet for a few nights).

Jacket With European Patches
Anna Thetard / Her Campus

3. If you can do this, you can do anything.

Seriously. Moving to an entirely new place with a different culture, rules, customs, slang, etc. is super difficult in itself. When you add in willingly leaving your family, friends, and loved ones for a country where you don’t know anyone, it can be a bit hard to recognize how well you’re adjusting. You might be rushing to meet “Your People” (Britain’s Version), but give yourself time. Moving abroad is so far outside of most people’s comfort zones (including mine); however, just the act of doing so has already made me feel so much more confident in myself. YOU ROCK!

Most of all, enjoy every minute. Even the hard ones, the homesick ones, the unsure ones, the confusing ones… I really and truly believe it will all be worth it in the end.

And remember, we’re in it together! WE GOT THIS!

Molly Robertson

Queen's U '25

Molly is a second-year psychology student studying at Queen's University. When she's not at CoGro, you can find Molly listening to the Lumineers, trying to decide on her next tattoo, or spending all her money on coffee.