I absolutely adore London. It is one of the greatest cities I have been to and I had the most incredible time here. While I was here for an academic reason, I have learned more about myself than I can ever imagine. Traveling to a new place with people you don’t really know when you have a mental illness is the scariest thing in the world. I was terrified the second I decided I was going on this trip. However, I put myself in the world and had a phenomenal time. Here are the major things I think I learned abroad.
1. Being true to yourself is key. Sometimes you need to just do things that make you feel better like staying in bed and being alone from people for a few hours. It is better to take decompression time and relax than push yourself too much and have it backfire. There were blocks of time where I just needed to be at home while everyone was out to make sure my head was in a good place. If I didn’t, there probably was a good chance that I would have had a panic attack in the streets of London
2. Learning to be independent in another country teaches you a lot about yourself. Learning to be alone can actually be very healthy and learning to get outside by yourself is healthy. There were times where I just walked around the town square and neighborhood and just took it in. Sometimes being with a bunch of people can be overwhelming and you lose the sense of wonder and amazement. You see things in a different way when you are by yourself.
3. Touristy stuff is great but it is also amazing to do local things that people who live there do. Talk to people and see what they recommend. See the city through local eyes. I got to see the streets of London and go to cool places I wouldn’t have if I didn’t here about it from a local person. Go to restaurants recommended by people, meaning don’t eat from chains that you have back home. I didn’t have Starbucks, McDonald’s or subway even though they were all walking distance. I went to cafes and pubs and ethnic restaurants in the area. Spend some time getting to know the true city.
4. Traveling with a group can be a lot of fun, but we are all human. You get annoyed of people and people will get annoyed of you. Spending time a part is fine. In fact, it is good thing. Separation from people who you know while push your buttons and make your experience a little less enjoyable is okay. And people are going to want to spend time away from you. If you aren’t invited to everything, it’s fine. We are all human and it’s going to happen.
5. Traveling will give you a sense of wonder and curiosity. You learn about yourself and what you want in life. Let it happen. We are only on this planet for a short amount of time so go out and experience. This trip taught me how much I appreciate other cultures and sights. Always stay true to yourself and expand your mind. I want to do more. I want to see more and experience life authentically. Just go and do things you want to. Don’t let anything stop you anymore.
I will be back to London soon. It is now one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t wait to continue to explore the world and my mind. It’s true. You go to Europe and you definitely have the travel bug.