Studying abroad has been something I’ve eagerly awaited for an entire year now, and in the time leading up to it, I wanted to prepare as much as I could. In the end, no matter how many Lonely Planet books I read or Pinterest boards I perused, there was no way to quite fully grasp the concept of moving to a different country until it actually happened.
I realized this as I sat in San Francisco International Airport, both ecstatic and uncomfortably terrified.
Though I went through a hard time in deciding whether to study abroad in an English-speaking country, these past few days of living in London have still been an adjustment. Forget the simple mistakes of naively getting into the front seat of an Uber vehicle only to realize you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, or referring to the toilet as the “restroom” and getting weird glances. Moving into our new flat was a shock in itself.
With a room size comparable to a closet, my roommate and I pushed our two tiny single beds together to make a “mega-bed,” cramped yet cozy. The other thing to get used to was the noise. Though USC can sometimes be loud, the only things that kept me at night were the occasional sirens or drunken students stumbling home. Here, we live in an extremely busy area, and no matter what time of the day, the wall between the outside world and us can sometimes feel non-existent.
Even though we’re slowly starting to make our way around this city, everything is still very unfamiliar, and with classes already starting Monday, I think many of us don’t know how to feel. Speaking for myself, I have no problem admitting that one thing I do feel for certain is overwhelmed.
I spent this past summer working as an orientation advisor on campus. Every week, I witnessed hundreds of freshmen that nervously entered our campus, unsure of what was ahead. As an OA, I served as a sort of guide and mentor for these new students. I was a role of support and symbol of stability, someone who had USC all figured out.
After having been the “know-it-all” these past three months, it’s extremely odd being on the other side of things again. I forgot how terrifying it could be as the nervous incoming student, being the one who is lost and needs guidance. Only after arriving at my destination can I truly sympathize with all those hesitant freshean I welcomed with open and confident arms.
As I embark on this study abroad adventure, I can’t help but think of them as I browse through Facebook photos of convocation and big orange bins on move-in day. With classes starting this week, all I can say is I hope that freshmen realize that even the know-it-all’s go through the same transition process as they do, and that they’re truly not alone. In the end, no matter how nerve-wracking it might be, I am excited for the journeys ahead for both them and myself.