It’s so hard to believe that I have been in the wonderful city of London for almost a month! Each day seems to fly by, yet I feel as if I am beginning to develop a level of familiarity and comfort with my surroundings. Between classes, homework, travel, spending time with friends and trying to soak up as much culture as possible, I cannot imagine how quickly the next three months of my trip will go by.
With this being said, it can be overwhelming when it comes to planning various trips and vacations within the semester. How can one pick only a few cities to visit, when every destination in the U.K and Europe seems so desirable—and accessible? It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of planning trips to faraway destinations, but I have discovered the importance of exploring what is right in front of me—the city of London.
Because each student at Queen Mary comes from a different background, it can be difficult to coordinate trips where everyone can join. Thus, I have spent the past few Wednesdays—my only day without class—wandering through the streets of Central London on my own, using this precious time allotted to me to be a complete tourist.
I’ve learned to love exploring London alone. By picking out a bookstore, coffee shop, or museum that I genuinely want to experience beforehand, I’ve been forced to rely on myself completely to get myself to my chosen destination. Without anyone else to help me navigate the nuances of the tube, I’ve left these solo endeavors feeling increasingly empowered and proud of the traveler I have become.
While this isn’t to say that traveling with friends isn’t a crucial aspect of the study abroad experience, I would encourage all international students to take it upon themselves to venture out on their own — you never know what you will find!