2019 Spring Taylor Berkoski Temple Exchange UEA United Kingdom

What I Learned From Spending A (Solitary) Week Abroad

Imagine this: you’re going to be spending a week alone in a foreign country. How does that make you feel? For some, that situation is no cause for worry. For others, like me, the idea is a bit terrifying. What if something goes wrong? What am I supposed to do with all of that time to myself?

First, I must elaborate on the idea of being “alone” and how it fits into my latest experience while abroad. By “alone”, I don’t mean the kind of alone I experienced when I first stepped off of the plane — even then, I wasn’t technically alone. There were others like me– other abroad students getting off of planes close by and coming to the University of East Anglia just like I was. There was an orientation schedule planned for me. I was pretty far from being “alone” in that moment.

However, the last week that I spent at UEA was in pure solitude. UEA students have a break from classes for the entire month of April, so everyone  packs up and ships out. My whole flat is comprised of English students, so they all went home to their families. Since I’m an exchange student, I took this break as an amazing opportunity to travel around Europe.

However, I couldn’t spend the whole month traveling nonstop. The first couple of weeks I traveled with another exchange student, and I was lucky enough to have my mother visit and travel with me as well — but once those weeks were over, it was time to head back to UEA.

I had to go back to UEA alone. All of my flat mates (who are also my closest friends) were back at home, in addition to every exchange student soul that I knew well. So there I was– experiencing UEA completely alone.

At first, this thought scared me. I actually had no one to spend time with, talk to, eat with, study with… nothing. Was I going to go insane? Was I finally going to crack?

Well of course, I didn’t if I’m here writing this blog! But I did come to a satisfying and eye-opening conclusion: spending a whole week alone has showed me how much I’ve grown as a person. How strong and level-headed I have become. England truly became my new normal.

Never in a million years would I believe myself if I said “Hey, one day you’re going to spend a whole week in England completely alone.” That thought would be absolutely be terrifying to me. But because I survived this past week– or for a better word, because I thrived during this week alone– I view myself as fully grown. I’m an actual adult (crazy, huh?) I cooked every meal for myself, I went to the library for a couple of hours each day, jogged around the lovely UEA lake, went into town a few times, explored the shops nearby, and even talked to a few locals.

Maybe on the surface spending a week alone and doing all of those things does not really seem like a big deal. Seems easy, huh?

Maybe it is. Hey, maybe it was. But looking back on it, I’m really proud of myself. It just shows that I am capable of being alone. I’m capable of taking care of myself. And I’m capable of fully living abroad. How satisfying is that?

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