It would be a lie if I said I was more than ready to take on a country by myself. Of course, I am not. That is something I have never done alone, but there is no better time than now. Traveling to England and Scotland has always been at the top of my bucket list. I have dreamed of visiting foreign cities like Glasgow and London all my life, and I am finally here. I love everything I have heard about the two countries from the cultures to the people to the accents. I have also always enjoyed traveling to new places and experiencing new things. This is an experience that I knew I could not pass up on because who knows when I will get to go to the UK again!
I was supposed to go to Rome, Italy in May of 2020; however, my trip was canceled due to Covid. It was supposed to be the first time I left the country alone as a part of a week-long freshmen study abroad program at my first university. I remember when we were first sent home for two weeks, I never in a million years thought my first trip to Europe was going to be canceled. However, I was severely wrong, but I ended up never really being that upset. I don’t think my heart was into visiting Italy with everything else going on in the world, so when the trip was canceled it was just a shrug of my shoulders. But, sometimes I wish I did have that opportunity, so I would have first-hand experience of what it is like to travel independently. I am definitely nervous about navigating my way around in two unfamiliar countries, but I know if I truly was not prepared, I would have talked myself out of it from the beginning.
This program came to my email inbox from the College of Liberal Arts departments at the perfect time. It was the end of October, and I was about two months into my first year at Temple as a transfer student. I had just switched my major to English from hospitality management, and I was starting to doubt my decision about switching majors. However, when I read the information and descriptions about all the British literature and culture I could study while I was there, I became excited. I remembered how much great literature was out there and the new opportunities that I could experience in two countries. After reading up more about the program, I called my mom immediately and began sharing the information I had just read. And after that it seemed like everything fell into place perfectly, and I knew I had to go.
The preparation process before and after applying to the study abroad program was just as exciting. It never felt tiresome. I liked checking the study abroad portal every so often to see if there were any updates about the program. I enjoyed receiving emails about the program and reading the updates. And receiving the congratulations email when I was accepted was just as exciting! I had to tell everyone when the news came through. I could not believe that I was going to London and Glasgow. It felt surreal.
I think the most difficult part of preparing for my study abroad program besides the nerves was the packing and the more technical parts. Although, buying new clothes and trying new outfits on was definitely fun. But, then trying to decide what can and cannot come with you while you’re abroad in a foreign country is next-level hard. I only packed one suitcase and had to make tough decisions. Sure, I don’t need four white shirts, but what if I stain the first three and the fourth one is my only backup. The technical parts—like buying and making sure I have the right adapters, calling my phone provider to see what plan would be best while I am abroad and exchanging American dollars for Scottish and English pounds—were still enjoyable, but tedious. It really showed that a lot goes into preparing to leave. The school books I had to buy for the two classes I will be taking while I am abroad were easy to find. All of them were novels that have themes from the two classes, and thankfully, I already had three of the six books I needed.
I am going to be in two new countries without my parents and sister for the first time ever, and although that is an exciting prospect, it is also scary. I am prepared. I see myself as an independent person, but I never mind relying on others. I like to be able to fall back on things just in case. I also don’t know anyone who will be a part of the program, so not having the safety of knowing another person is new. But, I see that as an opportunity, and it gets me excited for all that I am going to experience out of my comfort zone.