Sometimes it’s a thrill, excitement or boredom that ignites the urge to do something you’ve never done before. For me, it was a combination of all three. It was time to do something that was fun and life-changing.
I signed up with the International Study Abroad Program with the university, which was still UT Pan American at the time. The program I had initially signed up for didn’t make it, so I had to switch at the last minute. I was approved to do a minimester in London, England, and I was terrified.
The thing is, like most of us, I had never ventured outside the U.S. and I was going to a place I’d only seen in pictures and on TV. I didn’t know what to expect.
I was going to breathe the same air as Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. As that thought occurred to me, I felt very important.
Yet, I had to mentally and physically prepare myself for what would be the most challenging and life-changing three weeks of my life.
Upon arrival at Gatwick Airport in London, I was awestruck by how different London looked from the U.S. Then, when the massive jet lag began taking a toll on us, I realized this was really happening. However, since a friend and I had arrived three days before our study abroad group, we were lost, to say the least.
We had no cell phone service for three days, so we tried to explore as much as we could, without putting ourselves in a dangerous situation.
As the days passed by, I gained a new understanding of the diversity of cultures. There were people from all over the world in London. Whether I was walking the busy street of Oxford or simply riding a double-decker to get my meal for the day, the variety of people was entirely different from what I was used to here in the Valley. It was something I learned to appreciate.
An upper-level course is hard as it is, but it’s harder when you try to take it in two weeks and fit in time to explore London all at once. The challenging things were handling the time difference, still trying to go to class, managing homework, as well as having enough free time.
The most monumental thing I experienced was viewing the London Bridge and London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel) lit up in pink for the birth of Prince William and Kate’s baby girl, “Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.”
That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m glad that I took that trip because not only did I witness the lighting of the London Bridge, but I also learned how to engage and interact with various people of all colors, ethnicities and races. I was able to learn how to multitask in a short time, to handle jet lag, complete assignments, work with students in the London study abroad program, meet people from the U.K. and learn from their culture and experiences.