What I Learned While Traveling Abroad the Summer Before Going into College

Summer is the most anticipated season of the year: the ultimate time to sit back, enjoy the warm weather and do absolutely nothing for three months. I have always spent my summers relaxing, hanging out with friends, and going to the beach to work on my tan. The summer in between high school and college is always a sentimental one, filled with many lasts and love with your best friends before everyone goes their separate ways. Wanting to spend every minute I could with my friends, I was very unsure about my decision to spend the month of July studying abroad in England, but I definitely do not regret it. The experience was unbelievable and prepared me for the year to come.

 

Getting Used to Independence

When I tell people I went to Europe over the summer, their initial thoughts are usually that it was a trip with my family. I often have to explain that instead, I was with nineteen other students from my class. My high school’s program invites a group of students to study and take a college credit class at Oxford University each summer. We stayed in the college dorms, and for a month, we were college students. We had no parents around and were given a great amount of responsibility to take care of ourselves and do our own work. It reassured me of my ability to be able to live on my own and have so much freedom. 

 

Exploring New Cultures

Travelling is always an incredible experience for anyone. Seeing so much, meeting so many people, and exploring new cultures are advantages taken by any traveler. When you study abroad, you have the ability to take in more of your surroundings than you do at home. I was a student rather than a tourist. I got to see the country through the lens of any person who had studied there before. Instead of staying in hotels and going sightseeing every day, I was living like any other student, exploring the city and taking in the essence. The experience I had by living in the city of Oxford as a student was completely different from what it would have been had I gone to explore as a tourist with my family. Both would still be amazing experiences, but the chance to assimilate oneself in another culture provides a learning experience like no other. Diving into another culture so close to starting college prepared me to be brave and excited for the change. Entering such a different world and immersing myself into it gave me the confidence I needed to embrace the change of everything I was about to experience. 

Learning About Myself

Being in a different country and away from most of my friends and family pressured me to do a lot of things on my own without friends, something I was not used to at all. As the trip continued, I spent more time alone and became more complacent with getting a coffee or eating lunch by myself. This allowed me to get to know myself a little better and learn more about who I am as a person. It taught me how to be okay and happy with doing things and walking places alone. This was something that had always scared me a little, but with the trip, I gained more comfort with being by myself. Entering college without the fear of being alone has helped so much when it comes to getting in touch with myself. 

Gaining a New Perspective

This trip was definitely out of my comfort zone. But I do not regret going in the slightest! My advice is to never pass up an opportunity out of fear, because you will gain so much! I gained an unbelievable educational and cultural experience. I also want to remind any upcoming freshman that college is going to teach you so much about yourself, even though it can be really scary. I was lucky enough to have been able to go on this trip this summer, as it eased my nerves about starting college. But everyone’s nerves go away, and it will allow you to embrace the amazing opportunities that come your way!

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