As I sit here reminiscing on the past 8 months, I’m filled with all types of emotions that I don’t really know how to describe. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I could have ever asked for. Thinking about all I want to say right now is actually making me tear up. I have met so many wonderful people and have created memories that will last a lifetime. I know I’m being incredibly sappy but this truly has been the best opportunity I could have asked for.
Some come to Europe to study abroad with the mindset that the “study” part is put on the back burner. Coming to the London School of Economics, I was in for a shock because little did I know the intensity I was actually going to be putting myself through. I knew this was one of the top universities in the world, but I didn’t prepare myself for the stress and anxiety I have faced the past few weeks. However, all of the stress and tears was worth it because I can truly say I have had a world class education in just a few short months. I like to believe that I have grown so much intellectually, being taught by some of the most intelligent professors in the world. (Not to mention my Game Theory professor has met John Nash and revised some of his work.) This school has been much different than what I am used to back in the US. At Lehigh, I feel I have been coddled and babied because my final exams at home are worth approximately 30% of my final grade. Here, students work all year to attain a final exam mark which is the only form of assessment that actually matters. No one cares if you do your homework, or if you show up to class. You are expected to do that anyway because that’s what is necessary to attain a high exam mark. Thankfully, I believe my grades come back 50/50 where half is my exam mark, and half is my homework and class participation. These exams however are no joke. Students here are expected to learn a year’s worth of material, down to the last detail, to take a 3 hour exam that counts 100% of your grade. I couldn’t even imagine the stress I would be under if I was a real student here. I have studied harder and longer during these past 5 weeks than I ever have for anything in my life. I am very proud of myself because I believe I did well considering the amount of material I was expected to know for 5 exams within 2 weeks. I guess I have to wait until July to see how I actually did.
Despite all this, I have made so many friends that I really hope to keep in touch with. Everyone I met here was so welcoming and friendly. I really think this experience has made me more confident and outgoing because I was thrown into a foreign country forced to make friends and live on my own. I am just so thankful for everyone I have met these past 8 months whether they are from the US, UK or any other part of the world. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful everyone has been to me, and the friends I have made here are really some of the best people I have ever met. I now have friends from various universities all over the US, and from all parts of the country. This will definitely make it easy if I ever want to travel through the US! I really do hope to keep in contact with the friends I have made here. We have shared so many experiences and memories together, and I don’t want these friendships to fade away.
Speaking of traveling, I have definitely done my fair share of traveling, and my bank account lived to tell the tale. I traveled to 10 countries, other than the UK, and a whopping 19 cities if I’m counting correctly. I am so grateful I was able to do this all while juggling my school work. All of my friends that I traveled with, thank you for sharing all the experiences we had with me. To those friends from home that I visited, thank you so so much for showing me around the cities you were also studying in. I am so grateful for having friends who were also studying throughout Europe where I just hopped over and visited for the weekend. I cannot even begin to describe the experiences I’ve had, from climbing to Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh, to drinking beer in Hofbrauhaus in Munich, to seeing the fireworks for New Year’s Eve in London, to seeing the Colosseum, and many more beautiful European cities. None of this would have been possible if not for the friends I’ve made, my wonderful boyfriend Joe, and my mom and sister who came to visit!
To add to my list of things I am thankful for, I am so appreciative of my family who has been so supportive of my time here, and made this whole experience possible. I definitely could not have made it through without their support and love. Also, thank you to my boyfriend Joe who has been the most patient person I have ever met. I am so very sorry I’ve been able to see you about 10 days in the last 8 months. I am so excited to see you in just a few days though! You have also been one of the most supportive people during my time here and I DEFINITELY could not have made it through without you and being able to call you to help me figure things out and to calm me down and let me know it’s all going to be okay. And to vent about everything that has ever happened here. You are a saint for putting up with me and my meltdowns this past year. Thank you also to everyone else who has made this possible, including Lehigh and the study abroad office, Arcadia and their wonderful orientation staff, and all my other friends and family back home and here. You all have truly made this experience more than worthwhile.
I will finally be returning back home in about 15 hours, which is so mind blowing. I can’t believe my 8 months here is already over. Most of my stuff is packed. I don’t think I’m ready just yet, but I do have to get home to start my new job that I’m very excited for. Life moves on, and new doors open as other ones close. I finally can say my dream of studying abroad has come to an end. After many months of happiness and stress and every other emotion you can think of, I am finally done. I am actually quite sad because I fell in love with London the moment I arrived. Aside from the incredibly random rain showers and the umbrellas I’ve broken, and the rude snotty attitudes, I really love this city and everything it has to offer. Europe is a wonderful place full of so much history. The history of the US doesn’t even come close to that of Europe. I have learned so much from traveling that I would not have learned from just reading a text book. I am definitely excited to go home though and be reunited with my friends and family. Although I love this city, I couldn’t move here because I miss everyone at home so much.
Here are some of my favorite pictures highlighting my time here, and the wonderful friends I have made.