The thought of packing my life into two suitcases to then spend a semester navigating confusing train systems and busy airports was a terrifying one when I conceptualized it all at once. I was excited at the prospect of studying abroad, but was also overwhelmed when I thought of just how many tasks I needed to get done in order to actually go . Last fall was my first time living outside of the United States, which meant that there was much more preparation for this trip than had gone into childhood trips to Ethiopia, in which I knew that, at nine years old, I would be entirely taken care of by my family.
The experience of living on my own in a different country gave me a renewed sense of independence. For the first time, I reveled in my little victories, allowing myself to feel just the slightest bit liberated the first time I felt comfortable enough to go to a coffee shop on my own to write. My seven-week internship challenged me as a writer, as a thinker, and as a human being, and spending so much time on the tube gave me the chance to practice all the safety lessons I’d learned on the spot on MARTA in Atlanta. While abroad, I documented a lot of my memories on film and, though everything didn’t develop, the ones that did have come to hold more meaning because of it. Keep scrolling for select shots from the best four months of my college years.
London, United Kingdom
Ah, the tube. I gained a new appreciation for public transport while living in London. The metro in Atlanta, my hometown, is nowhere near as expansive as the tube system. With the fully loaded Oyster card from my host institution in hand, the thought of an Uber, Lyft, or taxi never crossed my mind, and my wallet thanked me for it.
As part of my course, I interned with You Press, a lovely community organization led by some of the funniest people I’ve ever met. My route to the office involved taking the 70 bus to Sheffield Terrace (I would then take the 28 or 328 bus from there), and there were many mornings I found myself gazing at these buildings creating lives for the people who lived inside.
My roommate Jaida and I were out one day and wandered into a university’s courtyard for the good (selfie) lighting and greenery. After exploring the campus for a few minutes, we got completely lost searching for an exit. This was taken at some point during our embarrassingly long search for such a small campus.
Kensington Gardens was a short walk away from my flat, so there were days I would find myself instinctually gravitating toward the park in order to calm my anxiety.
Last but never least — my block. I’d often step outside the front door of my flat to find our across-the-street neighbors listening to music and drinking wine on their balconies, smoking cigarettes from their kitchen windows, or taking hushed phone calls on the front steps of their building. This reminder that love never fails was my favorite morning visual.
While abroad, I had the incredible opportunities to travel outside of the UK to Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Thessaloniki, Greece. Traveling within Europe was a completely different experience than relocating to London itself, and it taught me loads about handling myself in stressful situations, looking after myself, and the beauty of creating in unfamiliar environments.