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When faced with either going into the workforce during horrible economic times or traveling abroad to obtain my MA I chose the latter. My decision ended being a simple one, I was already well cultured through family vacations to exotic places and traveling by myself around the US it was time to expand to other countries.
My first memory of traveling alone was getting on a plane to visit my sister in Denver, CO and that scared me! So going from Seattle to the UK was a whole different story.
Not only was my point of studying abroad in the UK just for education but it is the hub for traveling to all other parts of Europe. Hop on a train and there you go…Prague, Rome, Paris! A few factors were obstacles I had to overcome which I believe evolved me into who I am today.
The first thing I did upon arrival to my flat was slip on some sneakers and run through the town of Winchester. You are able to see things from a different perspective on foot than in moving transportation. In my first mile I saw Jane Austins home where she died, Winchester Cathedral, the town square, and more.
Culture Shock: This was different than any other culture shock. I was the only American in my MA program and there was only one British student. The rest of the students came from all over the world, some not fluent in English. Instead of feeling uncomfortable I seized this opportunity and became the Student Ambassador of the program. This gave me the chance to help teach my culture, language and learn about theirs.
Transportation: Since my University was an hour South of London I needed a train to get into the city, and used buses for the airport. Oh yes, there were bumps and bruises, missed buses, wrong routes etc…but I lived. You learn to laugh at the small things. The best part about this after letting myself get lost a few times, I was able to bypass my Underground map and walk. This made me feel so confident and like a local!
Language: I picked up different languages, sayings, and even have a strange accent from being to so many places. My ears had to be trained to understand the different dialects my tutors spoke and after sharing notes with a fellow student I finally grasped it. This made me feel accomplished and unique.
Individualism: Usually I would go to places with a group of friends but instead I explored solo. It gave me confidence, and a unique perspective to take my time and invest it in what I wanted. Here I found out I loved poetry and photography just because I popped into a small bookstore for hours, had tea and got lost in Lord Byron and Keats.
Do we see the theme here I. I. I. Me. Me. Me. Traveling solo is about yourself!
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