This post is part of our Study Abroad Stories series, which aims to share the thoughts and experiences of students who have already taken the leap of faith and gone to study in a foreign country. With each of these stories, we hope to inspire, inform, and encourage anyone who has yet to study abroad. Want to share your story? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram using the hashtag #studyabroadstories.
Lauren is a third year Psychology and Communication double major at the University of California, Davis. She loves adventuring, exercising, traveling, spending time with friends, hiking, doing photography, food blogging (@the.hangry.foodie), writing, and music. She is also interested in social media, marketing, and public relations and hope to pursue a career in one of these fields after I graduate college.
- Name: Lauren Lamm
- Country/place of origin: California, United States of America
- Where you studied abroad: London, United Kingdom
- When you studied abroad (e.g. Fall 2011): Summer 2017
- College/university that you studied abroad with: University of California, Davis
- Describe your study abroad experience in 3 words: unforgettable, self-enriching, extraordinary
Why did you decide to study abroad? Why did you go where you went?
One of my most important life goals is to travel the world. I’ve been wanting to travel anywhere and everywhere ever since I was a little girl, and I especially wanted to study abroad. Studying abroad sounded like the perfect opportunity to combine learning and travel. I specifically chose to study abroad in London through the UC Davis Gender and Communication program because it allowed me to earn 8 credit units towards my major in 4 weeks in an incredible city.
Where was your favourite travel destination while studying abroad?
Amsterdam was by far my favorite side-trip destination. I loved how relaxed and inviting the people were in Amsterdam, exploring the beautiful Vondelpark, taking a boat through the canals, and checking off the Anne Frank House on my bucket list. I could definitely see myself studying abroad in Amsterdam, or at least traveling there again in the future.
What is your most embarrassing/craziest study abroad moment?
Running through the streets of Soho at night in a sudden rainstorm with my best friends. It felt magical, like I was in a movie.
What was the best thing you ate while studying abroad?
Surprisingly, every single meal I ate in London was incredible. I literally did not eat anything bad the entire time I was there. The food was actually pretty affordable, which made it easier to eat at nicer places. Top 3 favorites: 1) Pizza from Pizza Pilgrims in Exmouth Market, 2) Cupcakes and tea from Peggy Porschen, and 3) Macaroons from Laduree, 4) Indian food from Dishoom.
What did you miss most about home when studying abroad?
I was initially very anxious about studying abroad and imagined myself being super homesick. However, since I was only gone for about 5 weeks, constantly on the go from around 8am-12am, and having the time of my life, I really did not have time to be homesick or be sad about being away from home. I think that staying busy and getting to adventure all over nonstop London with my new friends really prevented me from missing home.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying abroad?
The first day I arrived in London (after about 14 hours of travel), I felt extremely homesick and was also very sleep-deprived. I was second-guessing my decision to study abroad and was feeling very nervous about being in a new city all alone. Thankfully, I got a really good night’s sleep that night. The next day I woke up, went to my study abroad orientation, and explored London with some new friends. By the end of the day, all of my anxiety and homesickness had completely disappeared. From that point forward, I decided to have an open mind and to make the most of my time abroad, rather than think about what I could possibly be missing out on at home.
What is your fondest memory from studying abroad?
Two of my favorite memories involve watching the sunset in London. 1) My class and I went to the top of Primrose Hill, a park with a gorgeous view of London. We all brought food and wine and had a lovely picnic on the grass as we watched the sun set together. 2) On one of the last nights of my program, my class and I took a trip up to the top of the Shard, the tallest building in the EU. This was an awesome way to wind down my study abroad experience, and the sunset was killer that night. Being up there so high above the city with some of my new best friends by my side made me really appreciate all the new experiences and new friends I made while studying abroad.
How has your study abroad experience impacted your life?
It sounds cliche, but studying abroad truly has changed me as a person. I can’t put into words exactly how I have specifically changed, but I really grew as a person while studying abroad. Here are a few things I’ve noticed about myself since I’ve returned home:
- I appreciate the simple things in life more than I did before
- I am much more spontaneous, open-minded, and go more with the flow
- I understand that travel is not easy sometimes and that there will be obstacles, but overcoming those obstacles is worth it if you’re getting to travel the world
- I have an appreciation for the European way of life (diet, public transportation, culture)
- I worry less about the future and try to live more in the moment
- I have a strong desire to travel again, as soon as possible!
Any last words of advice for people planning to study abroad?
- Don’t be afraid– just do it! Studying abroad is 100% worth the expenses, the time, and the planning! Once you’re there, everything falls into place and if you keep an open mind, you’re bound to have the time of your life.
- PACK LIGHT – Seriously, this will make weekend trips and traveling in general SO much easier.
- Wear comfortable shoes at all times, even if you’re not expecting to walk a lot – I learned this the hard way 🙂
- Leave time for spontaneity – there’s no need to plan out every hour of every day. Some of the best experiences I had abroad were spontaneous decisions.
- If you’re able to, do some traveling before or after your program – The flight abroad is expensive, but traveling once you’re there is actually very affordable.
- Don’t try to think of or come up with reasons not to travel – Just say yes!
Are you thinking about studying abroad in London? Or have you already done so? Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!