Saying goodbye to my friends and family as I finished packing my suitcases to travel to London brought nervousness, and the feeling of knowing I had new roads ahead of me brought butterflies to my stomach. I had to ignore these temporarily as I was focused on making my way through security and getting to my gate. At the airport, I felt excitement as I knew I was about to embark on a semester abroad to study at the University of Westminster. This wave of excitement and nervousness felt eerily similar to a few years back when I moved into my freshman dorm at Butler University.
Being New Again
I was the new kid on campus. Again. Although I would only have this feeling for a short while (a semester instead of a whole year), I still felt lost while walking through the campus for the first few days. I had to ask what tube stop to get off at, directions to my classroom, and where the library is. This feeling was amplified by not having visited the University of Westminster campus prior to my arrival for classes. When you go move into your school as a freshman, you have an idea where everything is. I had gone on tours of Butler multiple times. I knew what dorm I would be in, what it looked like, and where my classes would be. It was a completely different story in London. (Interested in seeing what a shared kitchen looks like in Emma’s housing? Watch her video.)
My first week was overwhelming, just like my first week as a Butler freshman. I had multiple orientation sessions to go to and met lots of new people. At the end of each day, I felt exhausted and just wanted to catch up on sleep. It all felt familiar.
In the Classroom and Around Campus
There were some differences, though. I was not used to going to such a large university in the middle of the city. At Butler, the campus has a set perimeter and it is easy to identify what is a part of campus. At University of Westminster, my dorm room is a 30-minute tube ride away from my classes. The University of Westminster has about five different campuses so there is not a set area that I can call my school or campus.
The classes at University of Westminster are also structured differently. The classes are four hours long and occur once a week. The class sizes are similar to my home university, so that is an easy adjustment. The classes are structured with a lecture, workshop, and a seminar, which is very different than having one 50-minute class, three times a week. My professors were eager to dive into learning the first day, and there was no such thing as a “syllabus week.” Although there was no assigned reading for the first day, the professors introduced themselves and then jumped right into the lecture. It felt as if the professors did not want to waste a single minute of class time.
Another new thing that I did not have to experience back home was learning the London transportation system. At Butler University, I could leave ten minutes before class started and still arrive early. In London, I had to leave 45 minutes in advance to avoid any issues with the tube. The first few days I looked very much like a tourist with my maps out trying to figure out what line I needed to take to get to my class. There were times I got on the wrong tube or walked into the wrong classroom. After being here for a few weeks, I feel much more confident going to and from class.
Being a freshman at Butler allowed me to get outside of my comfort zone. Similar to my move into Butler, I didn’t know many people on my study abroad program. With my experience making friends at Butler, I was prepared to meet new people in London. I have met new people from all over the world. Some friends I’ve made go to schools across the U.S ranging from Los Angeles to Boston. I’ve also made friends who go to Butler that I’ve never met before.
Overall, feeling like a freshman the second time around felt much easier. I feel that I had already gone through being new once, so it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. This experience has pushed me in ways I couldn’t imagine, but the excitement of it all calmed me down. Since I had experienced being a new kid on campus before, I knew I could do it again. I’m sure this isn’t the last time I will face these freshman feelings. They might come when I’m starting a new job or moving to a new city post college. I now feel twice as prepared to succeed thanks to my experience at Butler and studying abroad.
Emma Coyne was a Marketing major at Butler University and studied abroad through IFSA University of Westminster in London, England in spring 2019. She served as Marketing Intern through the IFSA Work-to-Study Program.