Hello once again from the land of tea and scones! (It’s bad. I’ve never eaten this many scones in my life.) I have moved since my last post—now we are staying in Birmingham:
I would like to share another set of discoveries I have made this semester. These ones are the scary ones: they’re all about Adulting. On a study abroad semester, you are basically expected to take care of yourself. It may not be quite as drastic a change as moving from home to college, but it’s still very surprising. Even Westmont has many ways in which “adultier-adults” keep tabs on us and make sure we’re managing a basic quality of life and feeding ourselves.
This is not the case while doing off-campus/very-far-away living!
1. Often, you have to feed yourself. This is perhaps the scariest of all. On this semester, dinners have generally been a group effort while breakfast and lunch are individual. The amount of effort it takes to feed yourself a variety of healthy foods (vegetables are important!) for three meals a day is truly monumental. Grocery shopping is a nightmare—especially when in a different country! I spent 15 minutes looking for sugar in the baking goods aisle, only to discover that British stores stock it next to the tea (why?!).
2. You have to figure out public transportation. Depending on your background, this might be second nature, but I was used to either driving or being shuttled around. This semester, the general attitude is “We’re doing something at this place. Get yourself there in one of these ways.”
3. You have to travel independently. Many of us on England Semester have planned extra weekend trips, and everyone dispersed during Four-Day. We have to inform our leaders of our general plans and go as a group, but you’re kind of…set free. This can turn very stressful very quickly—did I mention five of us got stuck in some random English city one night? Luckily, we used our developing adulting skills to make it back safely, but I still wished someone else was in charge and making smart decisions.
4. You have to plan out your days. Time management: We all struggle with it. Off-campus, your free time increases drastically, but the amount of Cool Stuff to Do is nearly infinite. The only person holding you accountable for time management is yourself. The possibilities are endless, and sometimes that’s a blessing…but sometimes it’s exhausting.
While I know there’s a rumor that after graduating from college there’s something called "The Real World" we’re all going to have to deal with, I would prefer slowly wading into responsibility rather than being pitched headfirst into the deep end. Still, I’ve survived this long, and I’ve even eaten some vegetables along the way. The moral of the story: our parents and guardians deserve our heartfelt thanks for not only successfully adulting, but also taking care of us for all these years.
Part 3 coming soon!