Monday, January 25, 2010

Libby H. - London, England - Spring 2010

The first thing I thought upon my arrival into London was, "Wow, London...what a city." I'm not going to lie, my first few days here were rather rough. Trying to patch together a new life for myself wasn't the easiest first experience that I've ever had. Getting off the plane I soon realized that my American cellphone didn't work at all and our hotel had no internet thus leaving me with no solid, inexpensive way to contact my family. For those of you going to another country either 1) have your phone unlocked so you can use it anywhere or 2) plan on buying a phone as soon as you possibly can. There are super affordable phone plans and sim cards.
I can't tell you how many times in my first few days here in London that I caught myself wishing that I were back home, safe, and following my natural routine. But then I think, isn't that why I left Elmhurst in the first place? And yes, my friends, it is. It's been almost a month since I've first arrived in London and I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions ranging from sadness and homesickness to never wanting to leave this historic and stunning city. I'll have to say that all the preparation in the world could not have made this experience any easier of a transition. Living in a new place brings the bad with the good and I've quickly learned that it takes a lot of adjusting, leaning on your new found friends, an easygoing attitude, and chocolate. Yes, lots of chocolate.
I have one last suggestion that had proved extremely helpful for me; Start your own, personal blog (if you can) so that you can easily write down all your current thoughts and also pass the word on to the masses so you don't have to tell the same story time, and time, and time again. If you're really feeling anxious, don't keep it in, ask tons of questions, take a deep breath, and remind yourself...this really is the chance of a lifetime.



Blogger daniel said...

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study abroad

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Paige Harrison said...

It sounds like you had an amazing yet somewhat hectic and stressful first month. I feel like i will be in the same place as you wishing I were back home yet seeing this wonderful opportunity ahead of me. I hope you make the most of your trip and experience some awesome things! Enjoy your time in London!

9:48 PM  
Blogger pedro said...

Hi Libby!!
I miss you.
It sounds like you are having an awesome time in London. I am actually enrolled in the CPP class as well because I will be going to study abroad in New Zealand with Tom and Zonca. We leave June 27th and school doesnt end until November 7th. So if you have any tips or advice you can give me that woulds be greatly appreciated. Have a great time and hope your experience is going well.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Dan Zonca said...

Hey Libby!

It sound like you are really enjoying London and your studying abroad. Also it sounds like you have at least a very interesting and hectic first few days/weeks there. Hopefully when me Pedro and Tom head off to New Zealand it won't be as hectic and we can use some of the advice you gave. Hope you really enjoy your semester in London!

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Dana D. said...

Hi Libby!

It seems like you really struggled with a lot of emotions during your first month. I am planning on studying in London next year and I am super stoked as well as very nervous. I am very close to my family friends and I fear that I will have a real tough time transitioning to being without my family and also that I will have a tough time making new friends while I am over there. Do you have any tips about how to deal with the homesickness?

Have a great time in London!!!

11:13 PM  
Blogger Kristen K said...


I can't believe that you're in London! How long did it take you to feel comfortable? Or do you feel comfortable? And with jet lag, where you able to overcome it easily?

I love and miss you and can't wait to hear back from you!

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Libby,

Elmhurst isn't the same without you, but it sounds like you're having an awesome time. I am currently taking the study abroad course to go to Northern Ireland in the Fall of 2010, I am excited as hell! I know Friar is in Dublin and I will have to stop there too when I go, thanks for some of the tips in your blog, have an awesome time. I am going abroad for the same reasons as you are now, the chance of a lifetime get away from Elmhurst.

Take it easy,

Steve Dembowski

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to try my best to answer everyone's questions within this response so here it goes.

Yes, I'm going to have to admit that traveling abroad is the best experience that I have ever had. No matter what you do, your first few hours or days are going to throw you for a loop. It's not like your just taking a short trip to Ohio or something-your going to another country, so prepare yourself! Even if you're attached to people back home remind yourself that this is the time to break free and become an independent person or at least your own person in some sense.

To Pedro, Zonca, and Tom! Have fun! New Zealand is beautiful (from what I hear)and make sure to go skydiving for me please! You guys are going to have soooo much fun!
In saying that, I personally would NEVER suggest you studying abroad with two of your other friends (I hope your at least going to different schools?) because a few things could happen...I'm saying could, not that they will.

1) You're going to be intimidating to new people with a group of three already set out.
2) You won't meet as many new people because you already have two people that you know- "comfort zone"
3) You won't get to experience things in a new place by yourself, on you're own adventure (and let's be honest you don't study abroad just to screw around with you're best friends...sorry guys.)
4) Remember to non-Americans you're typical, overwhelming, loud Americans in a new place and when you know other Americans it can get annoying (particularly if booze is involved). You'll get what I mean eventually...
These are just forewarnings for the three of you because I know how lively you can be in the Frick and that really doesn't fly in foreign countries (it attracts negative attention) so just be on your guard and get a good feel for how the people around you are acting. You also want to get your own bearings and although having friends with you seems like a good idea, it can hinder your abroad experience quite a bit. Why do you think Matt and I went to different countries? I'm in love with him and I still think we needed to have our own experiences. I understand that you want to have an amazing experience with two of your great friends (I wish mine were here often enough) but its good for you to branch out on your own. Put those big boy pants on and venture out into that great big world!

Dana, make sure you have a ton of money because if London is anything besides amazing it is EXPENSIVE! I'll give you my email at the end of this and you can email me any questions you have, I'm becoming quite the pro when it comes to London and I can give you a million details!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homesickness, believe it or not, HAPPENS! I've found that the best way to deal with it is to go out and see more of your city and surroundings. Hang out with friends, call home (Skype is God's gift to abroad students) and talk about it with your other friends who are feeling homesick as well. I called home crying a few times in the beginning but now...I don't want to ever leave London. You'll find your own cures to homesickness and it will be gone before you know it.

Kristen! Jet lag took me a good week or so to get over and that went along with becoming comfortable with my surroundings. It really depends on what place your traveling to but becoming comfortable is something that will happen with time in your city. Make friends and your whole life will be a ton easier. People cling to people in uncomfortable situations so if you have people to get through it with, you'll do just fine.

Steve, I'm so glad you'll be traveling to the land of the UK. Get ready for the pound conversion to be horrid and not in your favor. Dublin is great and all but London is worth seeing as well!

Final parting tips, MAKE SURE TO TRAVEL EUROPE (if your going to be in Europe that is)! It's fairly affordable and amazing! You won't ever have the opportunity to travel as cheaply after you're a student no longer!
Not to shamelessly plug my city but London is amazing. At first I was a bit hesitant but so many astounding things have happened here that I could never imagine or see happening at home. For example, I'm a drama student so I went to see the show Waiting for Godot and MET Sir Ian McKellen who starred in it afterwards (I met the whole cast). Also, The London Eye and all the shopping...I really don't think I'll ever come home! These types of experiences are the things you all have to look forward to in your future trips abroad. There is so much out there and so much to see so just jump in feet first and try new things. Also, LISTEN TO ALICE! She knows what she's talking about when it comes to travel tips and advice and the CPE is a wonderful resource to curing those pre-departure jitters!

If you have anymore questions feel free to email me or Facebook me anything you wish! Hope I didn't worry any of you! These are merely my opinions. Your going to have your own knowledge to compare it with soon enough ^.^


5:13 PM  
Anonymous Dana D. said...

Thanks so much Libby! I am so excited to get over to London and experience it myself! It sounds like you are loving it! I cannot wait! I was wondering if you could give me some tips for how you picked out your classes? What would you recommend? Also how demanding are the classes out there?


2:31 PM  
Anonymous Dan Zonca said...

Thanks Libby,

Actually me, Pedro and Tom are planning on going to the same school, but your comments make me think it would be a better experience for all of us to go to different schools. I am still not 100% sure if I am going to be going due to some problems with Elmhurst but hopefully those should be resolved soon. Also was it hard trying to sign-up for your courses once you got to London and do you have any advice as to selecting classes while in a different country?

2:49 PM  
Blogger pedro said...

Hey Libby!
Unfortunately I am going to the same school as Tom and Zonca, except Zonca doesn't know if he is going yet because of problems at school. thank you for giving me some tips regarding going with people you know, Hopefully these wont be issues for us, I just think it would be really cool if two of us got the chance to experience something new.
in regards to choosing classes, do you recommend taking classes towards my major or just going crazy and experiencing something new?? i was thinking i was just going to take classes that I would never find here at Elmhurst.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I was curious, I heard that people from London are rude to Americans. Is this true?

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering me! Sig Kap just isn't the same without you!!!

In selecting classes, were you able to get into most that you wanted?

And how different is it then here?

Kristen King

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Yishan Yang said...

Hi Libby,

Its good to know that you're having a wonderful time in London though it took you time to get adjusted. I'm an international student from Jamaica who is planning on studying abroad in China for fall semester. It also took me some time to get adjusted to life at Elmhurst and now that I've finally become adjusted, I've decided to try something new again :). SO I just wanted some advice from you about selecting classes and how the classes differ from those at Elmhurst College? Did you get adjusted to being in those classes very quickly or was it hard to get adjusted?

Hope to hear from you soon!

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like your having quite the adventures in London! I was wondering if you have experienced any culture shock? Also, do you have any advice in dealing with it? Thanks!
Stacey Constantine

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey again Libby!

When you signed up for your classes, did the majority of them get changed from what you wanted to take? And are your advisors and teachers super nice? Thanks!

Kristen King

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey all! Sorry this took me so long to respond. I'm sure most of you are past picking classes and such now. I picked my classes through what my program offered me. When you pick classes, at least in my case, it was more of a "pre-register" and not a done deal. Most of the time you can change your classes around once you get there to try and fit your needs. I would suggest taking classes that will fulfill major requirements but you can always do both. I loved classes in the UK! I only had three days a week about two to four hours a day. Classes are more demanding but you spend less time in them. You have to rely on yourself and your notes. They also grade a lot harder in Europe so slacking isn't really an option.
As for the English being rude, this is both true and not true. There is always this attitude that hovers over big cities and it can sometimes infect people with the "mind your own business" bug. You are going to find rude people wherever you go, but you will also find wonderful people as well.
Alice was telling the truth when she mentioned culture shock. I experience quite a bit of it in London and what I did to counteract it was immerse myself in it even more! It becomes less shocking and more...normal. Hope you all get the chance to read this!


10:26 AM  

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