Arriving in London as a study abroad student is liquid chaos. Be prepared the first night. There is a mountain of logistics that I had to take care of the first couple of days, and the quicker the better. I was living in student accomodations and on the first day, by the time I had arrived in London, eaten and found where I was living I was exhausted. I rode the elevator up to my floor and found my door. I was tired, it was a long flight, I was a bit cold and to my pleasant surprise when I opened the door to my room there was no bedding. That night I slept in my clothes with my big trench coat pulled over me for warmth. Later on I would learn that my experience was not unique. To any study abroad student moving anywhere, take care of the basics, and take care of them quickly. First bedding, then technology. There is nothing worse than a cold bed with no blankets in London.
Once the basic logistics and preparations of moving in are taken care of, be prepared to spread your wings as a social butterfly and flap fast. The first two weeks of introductions are the most crucial, and will play an important part in your happiness and feelings about studying abroad as time goes by.
Friends. Regardless of what city or country you are in, friends are what will make living enjoyable and make any place fun to explore, especially London. The first couple of weeks I remember is all socializing events, from pubs to dancing to comedy nights. Go to all of them. I am writing this piece at the end of my tenure here in London and I can say that I am still friends with many of the people that I met in the introductory weeks. Some groups of friends will fade, and some will introduce you to others who become friends, but a healthy social network is crucial in studying abroad. Some of the people that I met during introductory week I do not really see anymore. However, from the ones that I did, became friends and we are still friends blossoming into a large group, but it could have been engineered. Simply, it happened naturally. I am so grateful to have shared the experience of studying abroad in London with them because it is the people around that make the memories not the city.
Although it may seem like a long distance to leave your new home, or daunting to meet new people, showing up is the hardest part, but the most important part. Most study abroad students when they arrive don’t have any friends. I didn’t. The juiciest most important aspect of my first couple of weeks studying abroad was simply to show up, and talk to at least one new person every day.
Making friends is hard, but living in London alone is much harder.