Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents Reflection on My London Life

February 11, 2022
By Tammy Yang, Wharton '23

King's College London, United Kingdom

Tammy is one of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents writing and sharing her experience abroad during the Spring 2022 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed. 

As I reflect on the first few days being in the United Kingdom, I would have never thought that being in a new country for a whole month would drastically change my life. The me now, writing this blog, is completely different than the me before moving thousands of miles away for a whole semester. I know, this sounds so cliche, right? But it’s true!

Before coming to the United Kingdom, I made a pact to myself to get out of my comfort zone, be more spontaneous, and live in the moment. Through my initiative to remove myself from my typical Type A personality, it has led to me seizing new opportunities that I would have honestly rejected to do if I was on campus.

For example, I was always the type of person to depend on someone when I wanted to do something, whether that be going out to eat or exploring a new place. However, during the past few weeks, I have become so much more comfortable being independent and exploring the city by myself by spending hours walking around parks, going to food markets, and spending time working in coffee shops! These moments by myself gave me time to truly reflect on my life and appreciate the small moments.

As I learned how to be more independent, I have also been able to befriend so many new friends from all over the world and explore London together by going to musicals (Mamma Mia, Back to the Future, Wicked, and more), museums such as National Gallery and the Natural History Museum, and cities outside of the city like Cambridge and Windsor. Being able to be in such a diverse friend group has taught me so much about the world outside of the US! Through our many conversations at Pret or pubs around Covent Garden, I got to learn about random discoveries about my friends’ respective countries and upbringings, such as their education systems, foods and cuisines, cultural celebrations, and even their countries’ slang (see you in the arvo at Macca’s, anyone?)!

While there were many highlights throughout the past few weeks, there were many setbacks and hiccups as well. Transitioning into a new university and school system was a bit difficult for me. I was shocked by how much readings and independent work I had to do before class every week, which was completely different from the hands-on learning at Wharton. It took me weeks to figure out how my modules and timetables worked at King’s. During the first week of uni, I read the wrong lecture material for one of my courses and sat in class clueless for an hour! A view of the Thames in London

I also had a very touristy moment occur to me too: my wallet got stolen. While this is extremely common in Europe, especially in such a large city like London, I never imagined that this would happen to me. Although it was initially very difficult to deal with (yes, I freaked out, panicked, cried, you name it), I do think that these setbacks taught me how to be mature and navigate my way out of the situations.

Yes, reading the wrong lecture material is embarrassing, and having my wallet, credit card, and cash stolen is tough, I realized that these were incidents that I cannot turn back the time to change. Instead of being hard on myself for these mistakes or events, I should move on by taking the time to talk with people about how I can be on track with my readings or contacting the police and others who could help me discover what the next steps are to report the incident, freeze my credit cards, and receive a new SSN card. These occurrences, even though they may seem horrible at the moment, taught me how to overcome and navigate my way through difficult challenges.

Studying abroad definitely has its highlights and setbacks, but it has truly made me appreciate and be grateful for the opportunity it has given me. In four weeks, I have experienced so many new adventures and done things that I would have never imagined myself experiencing in my lifetime. I am so excited to see what the rest of the semester will take me, and I am pumped to take you all along my journey through my blogs!

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The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.