Lessons from My Fellow International Students

One of the great aspects of studying in the United Kingdom is that there are so many international students. Some of them are studying on exchange, while others do their whole degree here. Either way it affords me the opportunity to meet people from all sorts of different countries.

Two of the amazing people I’ve become friends with are from Denmark. They have taught me a lot about their home country. Something I found quite interesting was the fact that the east side of Denmark, around Copenhagen, and the west side of Denmark have a friendly rivalry.

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Ready, Set, Go!

Sometimes, the scary things in life are the most rewarding. The thought of studying abroad, for example, can seem frightening. Further, actually studying abroad is down right terrifying at times, and traveling alone has the power to turn you into a statue if you let it.

However, making the decision to study abroad, actually following through with it and embarking on travels alone are some of the best decisions that I have ever made — no matter how terrifying they seemed or even were.

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My UK Adventures

Glasgow, where I’m studying abroad, is an amazing city and I think it is the best place to stay in Scotland. But I’d like to share some of my adventures from outside of the city.

The first trip I made outside of Glasgow was to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. I went on a tour that’s tailored for international students who want to see the sights of Scotland. Edinburgh is the more “touristy” of the two bigger cities of Scotland, first off because it is the capital and secondly because it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter!

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Early Learning and Immersion

I’ve been in Glasgow for roughly two weeks now and I wanted to share some of my experiences and some things I’ve learned. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect if you were to come study abroad with the amazing people of Scotland.

When I arrived in Scotland I needed a phone service because your phone is the most important thing, right? No, not really but it is useful; the first couple days I went without data, and I wasn’t able to add anyone I met on Facebook or Snapchat.

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A World of Differences

I spent 30 days in the wonderful city of London, and the experience has left a permanent mark on me and the way I view the world. This may sound like hyperbole, but rest assured, there is veracity in every ounce of that statement.

When I first arrived back home in San Diego, I was shocked by the immediate differences that I noticed between an American and a Londoner. (Yes, a Londoner and not a European. Most Londoners don’t like to be referred to as Europeans.)

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No Smiling: It’s a London Thing

Being from Southern California, I’m used to smiling. I smile at my 65-year old neighbor walking her dog, the young store clerk as he hurriedly puts my groceries in my bag and just about anyone I encounter on my daily routine. I thought smiling was a widely accepted gesture in all parts of the world—I was wrong.

Not even a day into my study abroad program in London, my preconceived notions were immediately shattered. Nobody smiles here. If you did try to smile, you would be greeted with scowling looks from the locals. And that’s exactly what happened to me on my first day in London.

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I Miss My Bed

It’s Week 3 of my journey throughout Europe. This is the most traveling I’ve done on my own in my life, all within this short period of time.

Earlier in the semester, I went some places as well, but those were more of the easy weekend or day trip variety. I’m used to this kind of trip. Back home I’d often got to LA or Sacramento (my hometown) for the weekend. I’d leave San Diego Thursday or Friday afternoon, escape the daily grind of college for a bit, and return Sunday night ready to resume the normal routine that is life.

Here I’ve followed that same formula for a while; the only difference were the destinations: Ireland, Scotland, Manchester, London, among others. Those trips were the same as back home. Easy, efficient, short. With a familiar bed to look forward to at the end.

Now it’s April, and we have five weeks off of school to travel.

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März, der Monat der Ferien (March, the Month of Holidays)

If I had to describe my March in one word it would be “busy.” So much has happened this month, from moving to my new study abroad destination of Ulm, Germany, to going on three vacations within two weeks. In my opinion, March has been the best month of my study abroad experience so far because I’ve done so much and I feel very satisfied with all my experiences these past couple of weeks.

While I do want to write about my impressions of living in Ulm, I wanted to spend this blog post highlighting my three vacations and my favorite aspects of each place. I will write a blog on my experiences in Ulm once I have more time to explore the city, since I haven’t really had much time there so far.

But for now, I’ll start by discussing my first trip in March, in which I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland!

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