They always said that my university days are meant to be the best moments of my life back then, and I held on to that belief throughout my years in high school and college because it gave me one simple yet powerful thing – hope. Though the catch was that they never really warned me about the initial shock that I might experience once I landed at London Heathrow Airport for the first time.
Put simply, I was told:
“You are on your own now. Take care and be smart about it.”
Fly away home
I would say that I am in a relatively privileged position where living with my family at home meant that I was occasionally spared from certain household duties. In other words, all I really needed to do was to work hard for my studies and help out with… maintaining a decent living space whenever I have some downtime. The thing is when you’re studying abroad and family is thousands of kilometres away from you, this meant that all of the chores and problems that need solving are now, suddenly, on you.
As intimidating as that might sound, especially since I needed to figure out how to organise my own life as well as make sure that I’m on top of my university deadlines and still maintain a social life. There are a few important learning points from my four-year experience of living independently.
It is actually a free-ing experience once you get used to it
I would say studying abroad is a period where I learnt to become a much more responsible adult, and I define “adult”, in this case, to be someone who has the maturity and capability to take control of their own life. In short, you no longer need to be told what to do for your life, and you have the complete freedom to craft your own story.
And in my honest opinion, it is actually not too difficult. You just need to be organised and disciplined with your own life – whether it is budgeting your expenditure, eating healthily by planning proper meal preps, actively choosing to make exercise a priority, setting aside a specific time in the week to clean up your flat… it is extremely doable!
Valuing the friends I have
To view things from an extremely pragmatic perspective, making friends is technically a survival skill. But really, the diverse groups of people you stumbled upon during your university journey can really be your second family.
I would even say that they are actually quite different to the friends you’ve made at school to some extent because you are likely to spend way more time with them as opposed to sitting in the same classroom for only a few hours every day. And to keep things simple, I see friends as people whom you could trust and spend quality time with, and someone who will have your back (and vice versa) regardless of the highs and lows.
All these people… I genuinely struggle to imagine that I could have met and gotten to know better if I never chose to study abroad. And for that reason, I smiled for taking up this adventure.