Having spent 10 years completing my primary and secondary education in the same school in Singapore, ever since high school, I was certain that I wanted to study abroad. Now, given that I am pursuing my undergraduate studies in a city almost 10,000 miles away from home, my wish has come true.
However, in my sophomore year, I began yearning for more experiences, more challenges and started looking up study abroad programs that would fit into my four-year timeline. BU’s constant advertising of the more than 100 program opportunities made me believe that I would have a multitude of cities to choose from. But alas, my decision to enroll in a dual degree program meant that I had a tight schedule and had to make sure that all the courses I take abroad would count toward the credits I required to graduate.
And that’s how I ended up in London for this semester. Despite the persistent course planning with my academic advisors at Questrom and CAS, tedious visa application process and stressful last-minute packing, it’s been three weeks since I arrived in London, and I’m glad I stuck by my decision to seek a study abroad 2.0 experience. My trip to Wales last weekend stands as the best testament to my claim.
Although I spent only two days at the Preseli Venture Lodge in the town of Haverfordwest, the adventure-filled weekend of kayaking, coastal hiking and coasteering was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Not to be too philosophical, but the trip mirrored the experiences that one undergoes when they study abroad and here’s how.
1. Meeting new people
The weekend trip was arranged by BU’s Academic Office in London. Any students were able to book spots. Given the unideal combination of subzero temperatures, and the fact that this weekend involved mostly water sports, only six of us showed up to the train station Friday evening. Although none of us knew each other, we were able to foster friendships and share an extremely fun adventure together.
2. Coasteering is like immersing yourself into a new culture
On our last day of the trip, we engaged in coasteering, which I believe was the highlight of our trip. Preparing for the drive down to Abereiddy included getting dressed up in scuba diving attire, bracing ourselves for the immensely cold water and trusting our life jackets to do the job when we took the leap of faith off a 30-feet high cliff into the waters below. I’m the type of person who wants to try everything new but often second guess myself at the last minute. So, when it was my turn to stand at the edge of the rocky cliff and jump off, I almost wanted to back away and not do it. However, I recalled a similar hesitation the night before I was supposed to fly out to London. Once I realized that the hesitations lacked any basis, and I ended up loving London, I decided to take a deep breath and step away from the cliff. The surprise as I splashed into the water was similar to the initial culture shock I faced both in Boston and London. Upon resurfacing and adjusting to the cold water though, I was content.
Ultimately, it is your choice to study abroad. I can’t promise you that you will have a life-changing experience as most people seem when it comes to studying abroad. However, trusting yourself to adjust and adapt, and giving yourself a chance at experiencing new activities are bound to change your perspective on life. As they say, whether the experience is good or bad, studying abroad is sure to give you a new outlook on life.