As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the parlor of my cousin’s house in Horsham, England, which is 20 minutes outside of the center of London. It’s day one of my trip abroad. I’m sipping some tea with a little bit of milk while my cousins look at the map of London and help me plan our trip for tomorrow by train. A dinner of meat and 2 vegetables is cooking on the oven and stove. I’ve been up for 26 hours straight, and I’m having a blast!
But it hasn’t all been fun and games. I’ve already made some mistakes and learned some valuable lessons. Lessons that those of you who want to study abroad should learn.
- Just because someone is an “adult” doesn’t mean they will be kind. I learned this after the entire flight departing MCI had to valet check and retrieve bags in Chicago. What. A. Nightmare.
- Yes, you’re an adult. Yes, you can do this by yourself. No, you don’t have to. Unfortunately, I also learned this by experience. After looking for my connecting flight to Madrid from Chicago (through a partner airline) in 3 different places, I broke down and asked for help. That was where I got my answers.
- The aircraft might board late. Even an hour late. You’ll still make it on time. They’ve built in room for delays on the arrival times!
- If you’re studying a foreign language, practice as much as you can! I did this on my flight to Madrid and the connecting flight from Madrid to London. Even though my study abroad program is in Scotland, I stepped out of my comfort zone to practice Spanish and was not disappointed. I even had a little fun speaking only Spanish
for 10 hours!
- Gates will change. Your boarding pass won’t say it. You’ll wait in line for the new gate, then have to wait in a line for customer service to fix your boarding pass by WRITING the new gate, then wait in line again. You’ll run to your gate and barely make it there on time, being the 2nd-to-last passenger to be checked in. And you’ll do all of this in one hour and STILL make it on time.
- Customs takes a LONG time to get through. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Be happy, be patient, and you’ll get through it.
- Having fun depends on you. Yes, I had hiccups throughout my journey, but so will you. There’s never a better time to learn about yourself and other people than when you travel. Be open and good experiences will find you.
Safe travels, all!
Emily McIntyre is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship with a Spanish minor. Emily is involved with several student organizations, including UMKC Enactus, which uses entrepreneurship to solve needs in the community. She’s looking forward to studying abroad this summer with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland, where she plans to explore more of her family heritage and country of origin.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.