I’ve had to sharpen my decision-making skills while living in London because there are so many decisions I need to make about my schedule, what I eat and do each day, transportation, and the opportunities that arise that can’t be planned for. It’s different from living back home because I have a limited window of time here. At first it wasn’t too difficult to make decisions. I would visit as many places as possible each day, checking off items from my list, regardless of the amount of time and energy it would take. But after many adrenaline-fueled days my energy levels started to decrease, and I realized I needed to factor in my coursework and give myself time to rest. I was fearing an early burnout. After letting myself take a few days here and there where I didn’t do much, my worries flipped because I then started to think that I might not want to do any activities anymore or even leave the house. After some self-reflection, and reminding myself that either extreme wouldn’t be realistically sustainable, I began to reach a healthier equilibrium. I don’t feel as tied to always checking activities or places off my list, but instead I’ll listen to my mind and body and do things when they feel right. I’ve turned down and cancelled plans that I felt were just too draining, and at the same time agreed to last-minute adventures if they sounded fun.
This week I had one of those spontaneous adventures. One morning my roommate invited me to travel to Cambridge with him for a daytrip and he was actually ready to head out the door when he asked me a final time if I’d like to join. Cambridge wasn’t one of those places I had on my list that I “needed” to do, however I knew that Cambridge was a beautiful place and so I sat for a moment trying to make a decision. I knew that I likely wouldn’t have another opportunity to go to Cambridge and I knew that the day I had planned at home wouldn’t be particularly exciting or productive. I also felt rested and confident that we would have a fun time on our trip, so I thought “Why not?”. When I told him I’d join him we both felt so excited for our last-minute adventure. It also felt different that I didn’t “have to” go on this trip, but I instead just felt like going. It felt spontaneous and at the end of the trip I knew I had made a great decision.
The views I saw in Cambridge were breathtaking, there were centuries-old buildings everywhere with unique architecture. I visited some museums that brought me up close to history. I saw items like the original notebooks of Charles Darwin, fossils that were millions of years old, and dinosaur bones. I also took a trip sitting in a punt boat, being whisked along the canals, under historical bridges, and in view of many colleges of Cambridge University. It felt surreal seeing these sights, along with the guides historical narration that added extra importance to these sights, like Queen Victoria’s moment of awe as she looked at the Bridge of Sighs. I felt so lucky to be across the world taking in these sights with my own eyes. I reminded myself that if I hadn’t made this trip, I would never have seen all of this beauty and wonder in the world. This same sense of wonder is why I came to London in the first place. This whole process solidified to me why striking a balance between spontaneity and careful planning is so important in decision making. This balance will continue to help make my experience abroad great!