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Published: August 19th 2012
This summer has been a beneficial learning experience for me in terms of my own personal goals and plans for the future. I have a better understanding of independence and adulthood. These first few years in college have taught me the cold, hard facts about the real world, but now I understand how it actually works. For example, I never understood why my parents would complain about having a long day at work and how stressed out they were as a result. After working full-time for eight weeks without pay I understand what it takes to be a working adult. I feel transitioned from adolescence to adulthood as a result of living and working in a foreign country. The working part made me realize the effort it takes to work full-time and climb the professional ladder. I was not expecting the days and workload to be long and tiring. The expectation was little independence and work with little room to grow. The work challenged me from morning to evening, but it showed me just how much
effort is required in the real world.
I have not only grown as a person, but also met some of my goals while away. According to my first pre-departure reflection exercise, I intended to step out of my American comfort zone and learn the customs of a new place. This was something I was keen about from the start. Everything about British culture intrigued me and I wanted to expand my cultural horizons. For example, I knew the Brits drank a lot of tea, but upon arriving in the UK, I discovered they drink it like water. I decided to try traditional afternoon tea and embrace the British way of life. Now I customarily drink tea and prepare it the proper way; it’s second nature to me. Although this has little significance in my professional life, I feel more cultured and worldly as a result of my newfound love for tea drinking. This custom will always connect me to my experiences this past summer.
In addition to my excessive tea drinking, I have changed in a number of ways. Some of the major changes I have noticed include: increased confidence, improved communication, higher maturity level, and a love for new cultures. Upon returning, the increased confidence and higher maturity level have made my re-entry to the United States relatively easy. Even basic things like setting up an apartment and managing my own money have improved as a result because I have experienced living on my own. London opened this door from adolescence to adulthood and now my adjustment to American culture has been simple with these changes. It might take some time for friends, in particular, to adjust to these changes, however. I have been perceived as a quiet, yet energetic individual, only focused on ‘the right now’ versus the future. My friends might have to warm up to the new adult I have become.
Now that I am moving forward in my college career, I have come to realize that this experience in London was one of the greatest in my life. My return to the United States has been rather sad as I watched the remainder of the Olympics and reminisced about my time in the UK. Although I looked forward to returning, I will most likely never have a similar experience, so it was a bittersweet moment as I began to readjust. To jump out of my stupor I have been keeping busy with where I left off—school and preparing for the future. London has given me the tools to move forward, like confidence and maturity, and now I just have to use them. I hope these goals help me in my upcoming business classes and my new tutoring position. In addition, I have been drinking tea like no other to subtly remind me of the most influential experience of my life. It is something that reminds me of a life-changing summer.
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