Join our staff member Megan Melbourne as she “Takes a Look Back on her Trip to England”

A Look Back on England: Megan Melbourne

Looking back upon my study abroad experience there are very few things I’d ever want to change about it. But, I’m sure there are several things I could have done to prepare better. So here’s some advice for future travelers based on the lessons I learned.First of all, I am a notoriously bad packer—ask any of my family! I over pack and somehow always pack too much of the things that I really don’t need and forget at least on vital item. When packing for England I had the notion that I needed only to pack nicer clothes rather than comfy, casual ones. I figured I’d want to blend in with the locals since they are notorious for dressing well, have amazing style, and reject the t-shirt and sweats stereotype of an American. I also naively believed that I wouldn’t really have much use for a bunch of t-shirts and other casual lay around clothes. Well, I was wrong. So, so wrong. T-shirts are glorious things: they are easy to pack, don’t take up much room, and let’s be honest what you want to wear when out doing outdoor activities, sleeping in airports, and laying around a manor in between classes. Granted, I loved myself for all the sweaters and cute British clothes I had to buy to make up for my lack of t-shirts. So, moral of the story, my number one advice for outbound students is to be sensible when packing. Think more about what you are most comfortable in rather than what you think you want to be wearing.

“Being abroad taught me to accept the change and the new, it taught me to jump at new challenges and experiences, and to never take any of it for granted”.

My other piece of advice though is to expect for the unexpected, especially, when it comes to your budget. I had spent an abundance of time by myself and with my parents making a budget for my trop and going through several different possibilities of weekend trips, flights, and accommodations. I believed that I was going into my semester abroad experience fully prepared and with plenty of money to do everything I wanted to. But, I quickly found out that my plan wasn’t so perfect. There are so many things that I hadn’t expected to have in my budget that made quite an impact. Such as laundry cost (it adds up), exchange rates changing, getting sick and needing a doctor or medicine, and most importantly food costs. There are so many possibilities of where your adventures can take you which means every more possibilities to spend money. Be sensible and plan for the unexpected so you aren’t making that phone call home half way through the semester asking for more money.  And lastly, embrace being able to be on your own.

“Studying Abroad is a chance to grow”.

I found that when I was by myself I could take it all in better and really had the opportunity to take it all in better and really had the chance to appreciate the small things at my own pace.  By the end of term trip to Italy I had pretty much given up on making an itinerary or planning anything with others in the group. Yes, I wanted to spend time with everyone and there were some activities that you just had to do with other people like going on a gondola ride. But, I was most looking forward to just wandering around Italy by myself and exploring. I had learned the joy of getting lost somewhere new and how peaceful it was to wander around on my own. We all spend too much time flying through our days and just checking things off our to-do lists without actually taking in what we are doing and seeing. This is without a doubt an American problem. And, if there were anything I should take away from my time abroad, it would be to not continue to live life that way. And, no one else should either.I myself have learned lessons on lessons and could come up with more advice than just these few tidbits. But, I think that learning all these lessons was my favorite part of my experience. If you go into something having every last bit of it planned out and never veering from the plan than there’s no chance of ever learning anything. And, without learning, there’s no chance for growth.

-Megan Melbourne

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