OPINION: Guest column: Lost in London

Posted on Apr 23 2019 - 5:00am by Ash Cranta

Traveling internationally is an experience that many college students crave, but are uncertain about committing to — whether that be due to the cost, work and class responsibilities or the decision to venture into the unknown.

I spent a month in London during the summer of 2018, through an International Studies Abroad (ISA) program — taking a multimedia journalism course at the University of Westminster. I chose this particular program because I didn’t want to disrupt my fall or spring semester schedule. I also believed I would be able to advance my academic plan with extra credits, and it allowed me time to work before leaving the country. I went into the program prepared to work hard, but I did not honestly think I would be overwhelmed with too much coursework. I was wrong.

During my time at Westminster, I wrote news reports and feature articles, collaborated in groups and did assignments on my own, and combined photography, videography and audio content. As a class, we designed a website to post our respective articles, building a collection of topics and styles.

Studying at such a regal university, even briefly, was a blend of new-age methods and rich history. We utilized social media and high-end technology to report on residents of one of the oldest cities on the planet.

While the classroom experience was helpful for both my academic and career growth, it was the personal journey that made the trip unforgettable. I stayed at an ISA apartment in Notting Hill with two roommates whom I had never met before, and while I initially only traveled in a group, I eventually started venturing out by myself.

I took the sweltering Tube transit system to Parliament Square and got myself lost in the West End, wandering back on a circuitous route. I also took a train an hour outside of the city to investigate caverns that had been used as World War II shelters.

Being on your own abroad is different than being on your own at college, even if you’re an out-of-state student. In college, you’re surrounded by fellow students who are also in between adulthood and dependency. Oxford, as lovely as it may be, is a college town.

Going abroad forces you out of your comfort zone, throwing you into a new culture that makes you realize who you are at the most most basic level. Traveling on my own in an entirely unfamiliar and sprawling city was nerve-wracking at first, but after navigating my way to both iconic tourist destinations and hidden beauties, and making lifelong connections with strangers, I became more confident in myself and my abilities. I was embracing a dream I’d had since I was little — to travel the world.

Studying abroad may seem infeasible to some, but there are organizations and opportunities in place to help students achieve their wildest goals. For me, studying abroad was an adventure I didn’t think I’d get, one that is still benefiting me to this day. I encourage all students who are even considering studying abroad to do so.

Ash Crantas is a junior studying journalism from Atlanta.