Leaving London (Alex Yurk)

As I begin my last week here, I’ve got 2 final papers, a final exam, 3 days of work left and 6 days left in London.  I don’t know where the time went.  I remember as if it wasyesterday arriving in London and being totally overwhelmed by everything.  Everything was so new and different.  In many ways, the UK is like America.  There are McDonalds, Burger King, and Starbucks everywhere you go.  People speak the same language and we share a similar background as a country.  However there are so many little differences that make the UK unique.  The cars drive on the left side of the road, the different dialects are hard to understand, and the social life and drinking culture and totally different than they are back home.  Not to mention everything seems to be much smaller.  Now, 14 weeks later, it feels like home.  It’s strange.  I’m completely comfortable living here and moving around the city.  I really feel like I’m an actual citizen here, and I’m reminded of that whenever I get stopped by a stranger and they ask me, a foreigner myself, how to get to a certain part of the city.  And the best part is that I can them navigate.  London is a big city, but it feels much smaller once you know your way around.  I’m also completely comfortable traveling to other countries as well.  Airports are no longer intimidating, and I feel like if I can navigate airports that have all the signs in Italian, German, Arabic, and French, I can pretty much navigate any airport without trouble.  It’s amazing how much I’ve changed in the last 3 months.  I think other people will notice it for than I have noticed it myself.  But that remains to be seen.

I really think that everyone should go abroad.  I know not everyone can but I highly encourage those that can to do so.  It really is a life changing experience and something you will treasure for years.

Alex Yurk is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).

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