Skip to main content

by Selam Weimer, intern and former Teen Council member (2018-2022) 

When you ask people what their one regret is from college, it’s not that they dated that one person or didn’t, it’s not that they wished they had studied more or less. Oftentimes what you will hear people say is that if they could go back, they would have chosen to study abroad. So to save you from that regret, I want to share a bit of my experience in London, where I studied for a semester my Junior year. Hopefully this will calm your fears about traveling, inspire you to start the process by looking up programs, or at least be an entertaining read. 

A girl looks at books in a stall on the street

My first piece of advice is to pick a place that is uncommon. I am aware that I have not set the best example  because I chose London, but I decided on the city because it had a great university for my major. I already knew the language, and my best friend from high school was also in the UK, so I wanted the opportunity to travel Europe with her. We ended up visiting Lisbon, Seville, Venice, and Amsterdam among other places because traveling between countries was comparable to going between states in the US. However, the world is so much bigger than Rome and Paris. If you are learning a language, I encourage you to look up programs in different regions and if you aren’t, consider it so by the time you go, you can go somewhere that will give you a unique experience.

I know people who did homestays in South America and the Middle East and had an amazing time. So don’t cross anything off until you have done some research. Speaking of research, that is my second piece of advice. Before departing, make sure you have some grasp of the culture you are entering and understand that it will take time to adjust. Even though I was in an English speaking country, there were many differences between London and D.C. (from pub culture to classroom expectations)  When doing research, also take time to look up scholarships and figure out your bu

dget. I had a part time job before going abroad and while it was challenging, I can tell you  the experience was worth every hour of customer service. There is nothing besides travel that I would rather spend my money on. 

My last piece of advice would be to step out of your comfort zone. This isn’t some cheesy life coach speech, I’m saying this from personal experience. When I got to London, I could have easily stayed with the American cohort, become friends with them and created a D.C. replica experience with British accents in the background. However, I would have missed out on all the incredible people I connected with, I would never reap the rewards of solo exploration, and I would leave the city unchanged. So if you do decide to study abroad, don’t just put one foot in. Journal so you can look back at this beautiful time in your life, be the mysterious 

foreigner in a cafe reading while sipping tea, stay in touch with friends and family back home who will be comforting during lonely times and cheer you on during your exciting adventures. When I returned to D.C. multiple people told me that there was something different about my countenance. If that kind of transformation sounds intriguing to you, I encourage you to give studying abroad a shot. 

Audiences: Teens
Topic: Teen Talk
Type: Stories