I grew up loving the idea of culturing myself in any part of the world, but I was always hesitant to go on these travels by myself. Leaving my family and friends for long periods scared me to death, so moving just an hour away from home for college was something I thought I couldn’t do—until I did it and came to Bellarmine.
Then, in the spring of 2018, I decided I was going to embark on a four-month journey across the Atlantic … alone. I packed my bags and boarded a jet with no one familiar to study in London. And I survived!
For anyone looking to do the same, I have come up with some easy tips to help you leave everything you’re accustomed to behind and make memories that will last you a lifetime.
First, do your research.
Explore every possible program online and find the city that best fits your lifestyle. Some cities, like London and Barcelona, are more of a party scene, while places like Florence and Milan are the opposite. Finding the city that’s right for you will make you feel more at home than you could imagine.
“Meet” people in advance.
Once you find the program that was made for you, immediately join any Facebook group or GroupMe apps they have available. This way, you can get to know the people going with you well ahead of time. Most of the students who will be in your program are extremely nervous about living in a different country alone, too, and bonding with them will make the move a bit easier. You might even find a roommate months before you leave!
Do more homework.
Start researching the area you might live in. Look up places to eat, places to drink, fun things to do. Start a list of these places, along with a list of other countries you might want to explore on weekends. Now you have things to look forward to, instead of just worrying about everything that could potentially go wrong.
Take a deep breath and go!
Throughout my four months in London, I made companions and created memories I will cherish forever. Most of these friendships and stories blossomed while I traveled to countries across Europe. I hiked in the Swiss Alps, drank wine in front of the Eiffel Tower and consumed the best lasagna of my life on the edge of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized how much more special my trip had been because I embarked on the journey alone—pushing myself way out of my small comfort zone. I challenge all students to travel and live abroad if the opportunity presents itself, because the lessons learned this way are unlike any others.
By Lydia Lange ’19
Lydia Lange, a photography major who graduated in May 2019, completed her marketing minor while abroad, taking four classes in business, public relations and marketing at Richmond—The American National University in London. She hopes to make her way in the fashion industry and plans to travel the globe for many years to come.