My name is Lily Nguyen and I am a student at the University of Central Florida. I am a double major in Hospitality and Event Management and I am studying abroad in Guildford, England at the University of Surrey! I have always dreamed of studying abroad in England and when the departure day came, I couldn’t believe it. The waiting had ended and before I knew it, I was scrambling to get to the airport and to get through security. Everything went by so fast that I felt like I didn’t even have time to be nervous. It wasn’t until I said goodbye to my parents that I realized that it was finally happening. I was about to travel internationally all by myself.
Landing at the London Heathrow airport was surreal. It didn’t feel like I just entered into this new country and that I was finally on British soil! I was so excited for this new adventure and journey to start; however, that feeling didn’t last long. I had a very hard time my first week in this brand new country. I knew that I was going to be homesick, but I definitely didn’t know the extent of how everything would overwhelm me.
It was when I was alone in my dorm room that it hit me – I was alone in a foreign country. I wasn’t able to get my Internet or Wi-Fi setup immediately, so when I wasn’t able to contact my friends on campus, I felt extremely vulnerable and lonely. I began to question why I was in England and why I was doing all of this. But then I realized something…I was just feeling extremely overwhelmed and that that’s perfectly normal.
I had to take a step back to evaluate why I was in England and why I wanted to study abroad in the first place. I had to remember and appreciate the opportunity that the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State has given to me to achieve this dream of studying abroad. I had to realize that in that moment I was just extremely exhausted, overwhelmed, and homesick. I had to realize that I wasn’t actually alone and I’m sure other study abroad students have felt the same emotions I felt in the beginning.
Once I was able to evaluate the situation, I knew that I was going to be okay. I knew that this journey was going to have bumpy roads, but that’s part of the life adventure and a big part of the fun. I know that every experience through this brand new adventure is going to better myself, even the unpleasant ones. After a week and a half of being in England, each day is better than the last and I learn new things about my host-country and myself every day. Even when there are rainy days, I know I should try to have a smile on my face and appreciate all the experiences that I am able to have in my life. Rain or shine, I know England is where I’m supposed to be at this very moment and I’m excited to experience what it has in store.