learning abroad vs learning life

Learning Abroad vs Learning in Life

Getting out of my skin

London was the first place in Europe I had ever had the chance to explore.  I had always had an urge to get out there and see what the world has to offer.  I never felt much of a kinship to my hometown in South Florida and being back hasn’t done much to remedy that.  I had originally went to London to study Shakespeare abroad at Florida State University’s campus in London right next door to the British Museum.  

I had never gone away to school, honestly I was never a good enough student growing up to even think about going to a University of any kind.  So I ended up in Community College at night while I worked for the family business as well as my own less honorable and less legal endeavors with lovable and somewhat destructive Uncle.

After learning a thing or two about actual life and taking a fiction class in said Community College, I found out that telling stories and my talent with words was the only way forward.  With this newfound passion and saving as much money as I possibly could, I headed to London for a six week summer program abroad with FSU studying Shakespeare’s works.

Can’t find a Local Abroad

It was a tremendous experience and I got to go to the Globe Theatre a couple of times as well as meeting that same lovable and destructive Uncle in Amsterdam to eat mushrooms and smoke hashish.

The issue I had with my trip to London was that I don’t think I met a single British person in the six weeks that I was studying abroad in the United Kingdom.  I went to school with a bunch of Americans, and most of them were from Florida.  We went to mainly expat bars around London.  The people that worked at the school didn’t help matters, they were all American as well and though they may have been living in London, like most people living away from their homeland, they sought out others like themselves.  So all the bars they would tell us about, or take us to, were places in London geared towards Americans.

One night when I was in school in London, a friend that I had made in the program and I had gone to this bar called O’Neil’s somewhere around Tottenham Square.  He said we were meeting the girls from two floors above my dorm room.  They were a group of girls from a sorority at Florida State, you can draw your own assumptions from that I’m sure.

When we got there they were sitting at a big table, must’ve been like eight of them.  Bleached blonde’s mostly.  Couple of them had work done, all of them were fairly absent in the brain department.  But I was young and still pretty dumb myself so I paid no mind.  I went ahead and introduced myself to all of them (even though they lived above my dorm, we hadn’t really met yet).  One girl however when i introduced myself she just gave me a smart alik look and wouldn’t shake my hand.  I kind of started showing my annoyance on my face and things turned into a stand off.  Turns out she sort of had reason to be annoyed with me.

“Jeff!  It’s Danielle!”

So turns out it was a girl I went to high school with who was also my best friends prom date.  She had lost some weight, don’t get me wrong, she was always beautiful, but you could tell that cocaine had slimmed her down just like it probably did to the other girls sitting at that table that night.

We partied and tore up London that night, and my time in the United Kingdom when I was in school, like I said it opened me up to a new world and the experience was amazing.  What it taught me most though, was that if I really want to live and travel and meet and connect with people from other parts of the world, I am going to need to go off on my own.  Having others around you from the same walk of life, keeps you from making those connections.  I’d suggest if you are planning on studying abroad, pick a school that is local to the country you are trying to study in.  Don’t go with an American University that has a program abroad, it will limit your scope and experience.

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