Finding Balance: Studying and Exploring While Abroad


Settling into my new country and study abroad program during my first three weeks has been both a challenging and rewarding experience. Coming into the United Kingdom, I brought my management skills, however, becoming integrated into my new classes and community, I quickly realized that my skills would not serve me in my new environment, schedule, and culture. To illustrate, I usually manage my time by completing my class assignments on weekdays in the afternoon, however, my new class schedule goes into the late afternoon and does not allow me the time I would routinely spend on assignments. Another example would be my class structure. Managing classes in the United States, I usually had the same class schedule consistently throughout the semester, which gave me a study and homework routine, but in London I have a mix of new courses each week that immensely conflicts with my routine.

Acknowledging the upheaval in my schedule, I have committed myself to adapting to my circumstances. Changing my colors like a chameleon to adapt to my new class schedule, I created time during my lunch break and morning commute on the tube to work on or begin assignments. I also dedicated time during the weekends to completing coursework. Additionally, to adjust to my mixture of courses every week, I have consistently looked into my school calendar to be aware of my upcoming classes. My greatest accomplishment abroad thus far has been my adaptation to my new schedule and transformation of routine.

Refining my management skills has drastically improved my schooling abroad and has allowed me to have a balance between my studies and exploration of my new country’s culture and arts! As one of the most diverse cities in the world, London’s culture is an amalgamation of many different cultures and is an enriched learning environment. For instance, one of my peers is originally from Austria, and by explaining my culture of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana to her, to my surprise, she described a similar tradition in Austria called “Fasching” which also celebrated carnival. Realizing that I shared cultural similarities with her fostered a cultural exchange that educated us and celebrated our cultures. Furthermore, by immersing myself in London’s arts by visiting Shakespeare’s Globe, I have experienced one of the most iconic London theaters. When taking in the majesty of the Globe and viewing my first Shakespearean performance as a “groundling”, I was in awe of the building. Standing in the pit with other Londoners, interacting, and sharing laughs with them, I felt that I was on my way to not just being a student abroad in London but a student that is aware of and a part of the cultural community of London.

Throughout my initial trials and tribulations with my management skills while abroad, I have advanced within my routines and planning, which has given me the time and ability to explore the arts and culture of London and find a sense of who I am within my new country.