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Jensen Lassiter

  • Adapting to Change

    by Jensen Lassiter | Oct 04, 2017
    As impossible as it may seem, I’ve spent the past three weeks across the pond in the beautiful London, England. Time seems to fly now that I’m actually here! I never imagined that I would ever actually make back to Europe, especially since time moved so slow last semester and winter!

    I get that it may be premature, but thus far, I’ve already learned so much, about myself and about the world. I can already notice a difference in myself. Luckily, I’ve adapted to the culture in London fairly well! I’ve experienced no homesickness (knock on wood!), but I’m sure one day the culture shock will get me!

    While I could spend hours telling you about how amazing London is, and why exactly you should study abroad, I’ll wait until I experience even more of this amazing place! I do, however, want to talk about certain challenges that I’ve already faced while here in England and how I’ve adapted.

    For those of you thinking about studying abroad but have some apprehension, let me be the next person to tell you that it will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Of course there are difficult days, but you’ll face challenges back home too, so you might as well face them abroad and grow from them! It’s amazing to watch yourself adapt to a new environment.

    One challenge for me was the prospect of homesickness, which is very common. I cannot tell you how everyone deals with it, but I can tell you how I am, so you can adapt easier too. I personally knew that I would be studying in London alone, and all summer that scared me. I knew I would have support wherever I was, but I just didn’t want to experience homesickness at all.

    I truly expected my first week to be miserable. I thought that I would call my mom the second my plane landed, crying. I knew I would tell her I wanted to come home and she would try to calm me down and remind me why I was in London and all the amazing things I wanted to do. But I was so wrong. The first time I cried on the trip was when I left my mom at the automatic doors inside O’Hare leading to Terminal 5. I knew in that exact moment I was completely on my own. One of my closest friends had sent me a text message before my flight saying “You’re doing it, Jensen!!,” and I knew that I had to!

    Another challenge I’ve had to face is adaptability. I’ve had to learn to be very quick-thinking, because in the Underground, nobody really cares if you miss your stop or your train. Those things happen, but letting it stop and ruin your day shouldn’t happen. Don’t cry about it, it happens! That being said, the Tube shouldn’t scare you, you’ll learn quick enough! I had to learn to adapt to the new environment and the challenges and dangers that were associated with it. On my third day in London, a terrible act happened not far from me. There was a terrorist attack on the Tube at Parsons Green station. I couldn’t let one attack prevent me from going out. My family and friends were apprehensive about me coming to Europe with all the danger around Europe lately. I understand their concerns, and they are concerns many many people have. However, the important thing to remember is that it can happen anywhere at any given moment, letting fear rule over our lives gets us nowhere! Literally!

    I also didn’t let my illness prevent me from going out and putting myself out there. The entire first week, I battled a cold and an ear infection; that was the second and last time I’ve cried!

    Last week I spent the weekend in Paris, where I speak absolutely no French, minus ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci!’ That being said, I didn’t wait until someone decided they wanted to go explore. I took the initiative myself and grabbed a map and left! Of course I got lost, multiple times in fact, but I was able to see some pretty amazing things. For example I found this amazing spot to view the Eiffel Tower! I cannot wait to visit the Netherlands and Belgium this coming weekend!

    From the very start of this trip, from the second I arrived in my flat, I realized that I needed to be comfortable here. I knew in order to thrive and not be homesick, I needed to make London my home. Again, I needed to adapt. I knew that the hideous bedspread needed to go, superficial maybe, but the one I purchased for ten pounds makes it so much more home-y. I brought dozens of photos and post cards to hang up around my room. During the first week, our school had a poster fair and I purchased a few to hang up. The minute my things started to fill my empty room, the happier I felt. My room actually felt like home.

    I cannot tell you that I’ve figured out how to beat homesickness, because I know one day that it will hit me and I’ll be down a bit. However, I can tell you that when that day comes, I’ll go out and cheer myself up by doing something fun! Figuring out your own needs and adapting help tremendously, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to make yourself comfortable first! There are lots of resources and people out there that can help when you do experience this. A FaceTime call home always helps too! The school that you’ll study at will have resources available to you, and Manchester University has amazing resources at your disposal as well! Utilize them!

    So if you’re thinking about studying abroad but are still unsure, I would absolutely take the plunge! You can’t grow if you don’t try! As for me personally, I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks bring!

    Cheers!
    JensenLassiter
    Jensen Lassiter ‘19 is an English major. She is currently working as a blogger for MU and is studying abroad in London, England this fall. Her dream job is to be an English and Creative Writing Professor.