Making Friends Across the Pond
After visiting St. Lawrence University and being impressed by the study abroad office and programs, my desire to study abroad strengthened and it became a key reason I decided to attend SLU. About 70 percent of students have an off-campus experience and students constantly rave about their amazing time abroad. Since it was something I knew I wanted to do, I decided to study abroad my sophomore year. I was excited to be in London, but I also was very nervous to be the only sophomore in a group of SLU students that I did not know well. Making friends across the pond has been one of the most meaningful aspects of studying abroad.
On the first day of Orientation, I felt overwhelmed. I was in a huge city, adjusting to many things at once, trying to walk fast and keep up with the London pace of life. After making sure I got off at the correct tube stop and walking a few blocks, I arrived at Gower Street. Across from the cozy Waterstones bookstore is St. Lawrence’s home in London. I walked into the classroom full of unfamiliar faces, not knowing these would be 20 new friends in four months. At the end of the day, we set off on a scavenger hunt in teams and raced to find well-known spots in London. Of course, we got lost a few times. But, getting lost that day was the start of many bonding experiences to come.
London is a study abroad program that is completely run by St. Lawrence, so the 20 other students and I spent almost every day together and formed a small SLU community in the massive, vibrant city of London. SLU students are placed in pairs with homestay families, are in courses together, work together on many projects, and are provided opportunities to get to know each other right away. Seeing other parts of the world, expanding our perspectives, and sharing the experience of studying abroad together made us grow closer. From eating lunch at school to finding favorite grocery stores nearby and exploring different neighborhoods, we made incredible memories.
Another way we bonded was through navigating London's public transportation system. Our professors would frequently tell us a meeting point for the day, such as a museum, a monument, a theatre, or a coffee shop. We would study tube maps and directions and often travel as a group to the meeting spots. In fact, one of the pictures included is myself and other students on the tube. We were heading home from an evening show for our theatre class, but had just encountered an unexpected adventure. We had walked to our first tube station on our pre-planned route home only to find it had surprisingly closed. After examining our maps, we determined a new plan and made our way onto the Northern Line. Navigating the city as a team and riding the tube together are experiences that I remember fondly.
Months later, I love seeing my friends I studied abroad with back on campus and reminiscing about our London memories. I am constantly reminded of why I am so glad I decided to study abroad sophomore year. I am beyond grateful for my London experiences, engaging courses, and new SLU friendships.
St. Lawrence facilitates remarkable study abroad programs, with many sources of financial assistance and a Center for International and Intercultural Studies office that is more than willing to help students along the way.