My First Month Abroad – Nasser Ghaffar

I landed in Heathrow airport in London on Sunday, September 16th. In the time span of one month I have traveled to Paris and Amsterdam, while also traveling around the UK. I have to admit that I was nervous when I decided to spend the semester abroad in the UK. The days leading up to my departure from New York I grew anxious, I wasn’t only going to be spending a semester at a new university, but I was going to be 3,442 miles away from my family in a foreign country.

I miss my family and my friends back in New York at Hunter College, making this decision to spend a semester abroad was hard. When you make a decision, there are a vast amount of emotions that run through your mind, including fear, anxiety, and doubt just to name a few, but on the other side of all those negative emotions comes happiness. The other side of my decision to spend a semester abroad has only brought excitement and curiosity to travel all over Europe and make new friends.

I am a very social person, so making friends and meeting new people wasn’t something I was worried about. I decided to join many societies at Queen Mary, by making this decision I’ve been meeting more people then I would by just going to class. I have the opportunity to also attend multiple networking events where professionals from various industries come to talk about their careers and work life in their respected fields. I really think that joining societies that are focused on your interest is a huge positive, it’s a big advantage to be a part of an organization of other students who have the same interest as you.

Before I started traveling outside of the UK, I took a trip to the All England Club in Wimbledon. This facility is where one of the four grand slams in tennis are held. I’ve been playing tennis since I was 10 years old traveling the United States and playing national tournaments growing up. I also play at Hunter College on the men’s team and our home matches are held at the US Open in Queens. Getting to walk through the facilities at Wimbledon was a surreal experience, I took a tour through the facilities and the museum and afterwards got to walk onto center court. The experience was amazing, and I just have two grand slam facilities left to travel to, the French Open and the Australian Open!
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Traveling around Europe has been truly amazing. So far I’ve traveled to Paris and Amsterdam. I walked through the streets of Paris eating an entire baguette, I’m sure it was obvious to locals that I was a tourist. I took a canal cruise past all the major attractions in Paris. First, I went to Notre Dame and walked through the cathedral, then hopped back on the boat and got the chance to see the Louvre. Later that day I went shopping at the Avenue des Champs-Elysee, and finished my evening up at the top of the Eiffel Tower just in time for sunset.

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My second trip was to Amsterdam, where I took an overnight bus trip through France and Belgium. I left London at 8:00pm on a Thursday night and arrived in Amsterdam at 9:00am the following day. My trip to Amsterdam was very busy, I went biking in Vondelpark and took a canal cruise one night through the entire city. Walking through the streets could be pretty dangerous, the streets were very narrow and at any second a biker, motorcycle or a car could drive right past you. I ended my Amsterdam trip with a tour of the Anne Frank house, the experience overall was amazing.

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Only one month has past here in the UK, and I’ve done so much already. This experience will be a truly memorable time in my life, and I truly believe students should take advantage of any opportunity that would allow them to travel more of the world. It really does change your perspective on life.

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