Diving Head First Into the English Channel – Zoe Kaplan

Unfortunately, I’ve always been susceptible to bouts of homesickness. My home university is just an hour and a half away from my family, and the car I take to school provides me easy access to everyone I love most. Studying abroad thousands of miles away, at a university across an ocean and inaccessible by car, was initially terrifying. I spent my first few days in London overwhelmed by the transition.

How was I supposed to do everything a study abroad student was “supposed to do”—go out, travel, explore, and experience—while keeping up with academics?

How could I make sure I took advantage of everything London had to offer, while also keeping up with everything at King’s?

For me, luckily, setting into life at King’s meant settling into life at London. King’s is spread out in the heart of the city and its culture is embedded in its location. I quickly began to cope with my new surroundings by getting more involved with life at King’s. I scoured the KCLSU page and found hundreds of clubs, activities, and events. King’s had numerous special study abroad events that brought together other study abroad students and acquainted us to not only the campus and academic life at King’s, but also the city of London. I remember walking across the street from my flat to the Franklin Wilkins building to sit in on a lecture about “thriving in London.” I learned about the best apps to use when traveling, where the best museums where (and their free entrance policies), and some clever cooking and dining tips.

When confronted with a new academic system, I found myself initially struggling to understand how students were successful in their studies at King’s. I had heard horror stories of American students abroad trying to reach out to their professors and getting the cold shoulder, or struggling with essays because of vastly different requirements. I started conversations with other students in my classes, who were eager to share advice and tips about each module. My professors knew I was a study abroad student, and each openly offered assistance. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and participated often in my first few seminars.

The key to getting over my homesickness was diving headfirst into everything King’s and London had to offer. I was only in London for a little over three months, and quickly realized how fast each week, day, and moment would fly by. Jumping into orientation events, lectures, tours, club fairs, and socials helped acquaint me with the city and gave me the tools to thrive in it on my own.

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