Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Semester overseas lives up to high expectations

It’s astonishing how fast time goes by. And, after nearly six months abroad, I will be returning to my home in Boston, a jump across the pond from where I spent a semester in London. I will be on U.S. soil again.

Studying abroad was not a decision that was made on a whim. It was a process, which took time, but was and has been worth it all.

Many students see studying abroad as an opportunity to escape reality, a temporary vacation. But the truth is, it is so much more than that. One of the most fulfilling parts about studying abroad was the sense of independence and personal growth I gained. I had already considered myself an independent person before I left, but this was something entirely different. I felt as if I was starting from scratch.

As an avid reader and English minor at Suffolk, I wasn’t entirely sure how the education system operated overseas. Would I be capable of performing as well as I did back home? Would I fail? All of the classes I took were also classes I would never find at Suffolk. That, too, posed another challenge, though it actually piqued my interest even more.

Once things got going and life started moving in my new home away from home, I had no time to worry about those things anymore. With all the changes in my daily life and routine, I quickly learned that adapting to the environment was the key to my survival and eventually I figured out the system. I became friends with Brits and forgot about my initial fears. I knew what I had to do in classes. I learned my way around London. I adapted. It did not mean I had rid myself entirely of my ways of life back home, combining my ways of life with those around me it felt as if I was adding extra layers and steps to get through everyday life.

My entire experience is not something a few hundred words can sum up, but if there is any advice I can give to students considering going abroad, it is this: be aware, learn how to budget, plan accordingly, and ask yourself why you are studying abroad.

One of the most important things to know is how to budget correctly. For all of my travels, I flew solo. It was something I knew I wanted to do, but it was still important for me to let others know where I was, and where I was going, especially because I was alone.

Budgeting wise, I had estimated a total for myself to spend before I left. I kept track of receipts, jotted down whatever I had spent in a notebook, and checked my bank statements every Sunday. If that sounds too complicated for you, then you can always just set goals for things you only need. The only things I spent money on from the time I arrived in January, to the beginning of May were food and transportation. Period. It may sound minimal, but it was the sacrifice I had to make if I wanted to have enough expenses for things like traveling.


I also rarely ever ate out or shopped, because I told myself I could do all those things if I still had leftover money. Overall, I didn’t spend on unnecessary items and it certainly made all the difference in the world. It is the sole reason why I was able to enjoy being in 11 different countries in the span of one semester.

It’s fun to travel with friends, but I wanted my experience to be different and personal. One of the best things about moving solo all the time was I had zero restrictions. I only had to worry about myself. But, the greatest and most rewarding part of it was realizing I could handle all of it on my own.

It is also important to plan accordingly. I scheduled all my trips in advance. I bought airplane tickets and booked for stays months beforehand. I also checked my final exam timetable and made sure nothing clashed. If that option isn’t available to you when you start studying abroad, then I suggest holding off from planning any kind of trip until you know your set exam schedule. It takes a lot of stress away and you won’t have to cancel a trip or miss an exam.

Lastly, a few days before I left for London, I reflected upon why I wanted to go in the first place.

I wanted to study abroad to push myself further and push myself past my limits. I knew that six months later, if I returned from being abroad, if I had survived it, then I would know I could handle anything. If I could survive being on my own in a completely different country and still want to exceed in every way possible, then I would know that it was the right decision to go in the first place and be reassured that I can manage almost anything else that could be thrown at me in the future.

My time abroad has been one of the most valuable experiences I have had in my life. It has shaped me in a way nothing else ever has. Over 20 flights, 30 cities, and two different continents later, I know I am leaving on a good note. Like the rest of the Earth, there is still so much to go back for and see, but for now, I am content and happy.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Connie Lai, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

All The Suffolk Journal Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Semester overseas lives up to high expectations