Hi there, my name is Matthew and I’m an FIE/FEA Scholar for Fall 2019. I’m a junior at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville and dual Business Administration major with a particular interest in Marketing and Finance.
Having never traveled outside the US before, my study abroad experience to London thus far has been an eye-opener. Upon my arrival in London my phone died quickly after exiting the airport. The two bags that I checked had been delayed, and I found out that they would be delayed for a few days. It’s these unexpected “challenges” that offer opportunities to learn. Since I decided to leave my phone charger in the bags that I had checked, I realized my navigation would consist of following signs and asking questions. The trip to my flat was time consuming, confusing, and maybe a little frustrating at the moment. However, this day helped me memorize my surroundings and appreciate the chance to learn. Additionally, the delayed baggage turned out to be a blessing in disguise when I discovered just how many stairs I had ahead of me that day. A somewhat difficult introduction to London proved to work out quite well.
After completing the “hike” to my flat, I was greeted by my ten flatmates. We introduced ourselves to one another and excitement for the semester dominated conversation among each of us. Through discussion we each talked a little about ourselves, and what we hoped to accomplish through our time abroad. A few of the common goals mentioned were immersing ourselves in the British culture, visiting other European nations, and grasping a better understanding of how the different parts of the world are connected.
The first few days consisted of crossing the “must-see’s” off the list, including Kensington Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, and more. Together we’ve ventured off exploring various parts of the city, found ourselves lost on the Tube, and tried out a few of the many great restaurants around. One of my observations of the city is the gorgeous architecture. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The majority of the buildings here are very old, but extremely well-maintained. Many of the building styles are similar, but each building seems to have unique characteristics that really set them apart from surrounding buildings. The air here is surprisingly clean, and the visible pollution levels aren’t as bad as I had expected. It’s evident that the streets and parks are taken care of!
Cloudy, cool days full of rain. Nope, not yet. We’ve enjoyed beautiful days of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. I’ve embraced the gorgeous city landscape by jogging through various neighborhoods, Hyde Park, Green Park, and around Piccadilly Circus. The weather here has made it easy to immerse ourselves in the foreign atmosphere.
As classes began, I quickly realized just how fortunate I am to have this opportunity. The instructors are fascinating (in part because of the accents and quirky British sayings). This has been a wonderful beginning for the semester and I’m so excited to see how the semester progresses, I’m eager to continue to meet others, and to truly grasp an international understanding of communication and business in the “real world”. Stay tuned for updates as the semester continues, and follow along for a few pictures along the way.