This first week in London has been absolutely surreal. I’ve made tons of new friends, tried new foods, gotten lost a few times and am learning the ways of a new culture in a country I never thought I would call home, at least for the next three months. Living in a homestay has really made me feel immersed in the culture. I have never been so far away from home without my family before and it was nerve racking at first because, and I don’t know about you, but whenever my family travels by plane my mom never lets me hold paperwork because she afraid I’ll lose it, and would always tell me which way to go, so when they were waving to me from the other side of the security line, all I kept thinking was, what the heck do I do now?!
Being on my own for the first time made me feel like a true adult and let me tell you, it felt absolutely amazing. I was the one making all the decisions; I was in charge of learning the ways and navigating through the incredible city of London. Having this feeling of true independence gave me a sense of courage I’ve never had before.
London is an extremely diverse city and it is absolutely amazing how many different languages you hear in the grocery store or in the tube, their version of the subway, or buses. It amazed me how everyone was so welcoming and kind. When people say London is the greatest city in the world, they’re absolutely right. I encourage everyone who has not studied abroad to do so, trust me you will not regret it. Yes, it is scary and you will be nervous but every student in the program feels the exact same way. Over Christmas break I remember how nervous I started getting because it was coming up so fast, but as soon as the plane took off, I knew this journey was going to be a great one.
As soon as I got off the plane, everyone from the AIFS London Study abroad program met in the airport. There was about thirty of us there. Everyone was so excited to meet each other and we all started talking as if we were all friends who hadn’t seen each other in years. After all of our planes had landed we took a coach bus to the AIFS Student Central building and waited for our cars to come to take us to our homestays. This gave us some time to start getting to know one another and right away we were making travel plans together.
Waiting for the car to come to take me to my homestay felt like forever, all I kept thinking was that I hoped she liked me and that she was nice. I had been emailing back and forth with Jeanette for a while but was still nervous meeting her face-to-face for the first time. When the taxi finally arrived I jumped in the car not wanting to wait another minute. I carried my suitcases to her front door and rang the bell wondering if I should be ready to shake her hand or give her a hug. When she opened the door she had a huge smile on her face and hugged me right away. It was almost as if we already knew each other. Her house is absolutely beautiful inside. I don’t think I will ever forget how welcomed she made me feel.