If I were to tell the September version of myself everything that has happened since, I wouldn’t believe it. I would take this opportunity again in a heartbeat. Everything has been going so fast and as I write this I can finally stop and reflect. Throughout my study abroad journey, I have gained skills and knowledge that I will take with me.
Although the positives outweigh the negatives, I came to Canterbury not knowing what to expect. I have been presented with different and new ways of teaching. Classes here are called modules or lectures. Professors are called Lecturers, Tutors, or Doctors, based on their credentials. Balancing school and traveling has been harder than I thought. While I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places, this is not a vacation. Most of my modules base course grades on only one or two papers, which puts a lot of pressure on those assignments. How have I managed to travel, be a full-time student, and maintain mental health? It has been more challenging than I thought. However, I’ve surprised myself and needed the challenge to stimulate my mind and unleash more of my potential.
It can be hard to focus when you’re in England for the first time with so much to do, and different cities and countries being a short plane or train ride away. I’ve had to prioritize my studies over everything else. If I know I want to spend my weekends traveling I have to engage with class lectures and complete my readings beforehand. As the end of the semester approaches, I know I will spend more time in the library and decided it was best not to travel during my last weekend. Faculty at Canterbury Christ Church University and Professor Maureen have been very helpful and provide us with the resources we need to do well.
This experience has also shown me how good I am at planning trips with my travel-planning partner Sarae Perez. Being spontaneous has allowed us to book weekend trips to London, Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, and a week in Italy. Finding the best flights or train prices, affordable hotels or Airbnb’s, and the best activities to do within two days takes a lot of research and planning. Even though I’ve been having the time of my life, I have run into some roadblocks. Whether it was getting lost in Canterbury with a dead phone or trying to figure out the transportation system in Italy, I have gained problem solving skills and responsibility.
There are times where we all feel homesick. Cooking some homemade meals and keeping in contact with friends and family from home always helps. Journaling has been a healthy outlet for writing down my thoughts and documenting my experience. I still have to work on being more organized so I can be less overwhelmed, but this experience filled me with so much happiness. Three months feels short when you want to do so many things at once, but my best advice is to prioritize studying so you can enjoy the rest with peace of mind.