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!
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.
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.
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.