The Second Time Around.
Studying abroad is absolutely wonderful. It's even better when you're blessed with the opportunity to do it all over again. However, while there are many positives that come from studying abroad twice, it's inevitable that you will come to the point where you find yourself comparing the experiences. It's bound to happen.
It really hit me hard today. As I was walking along the Yarra River, enjoying the beautiful, sunny, 65 degree winter afternoon, it hit me. After three weeks here, I definitely enjoy Melbourne a lot more than London. But why?
On a Side Note.
Before I go into my reasoning as to why, in my opinion, Melbourne is far better than London, just a little side note. Today, I went to the Queen Victoria Market again (I've already gone over 5 times!) and I was walking by the stalls and all of the sudden, all I could smell was Indonesia. I absolutely LOVE how certain smells can bring back memories and images, in this case, of another country. It made me so happy; moments like those are the best! When you're in a certain place for an extended amount of time, you just get used to things. Sometimes you don't even consciously notice it (the smell of certain places) - but it's there and will be locked away in the back of your mind until something triggers it. And when something triggers it, it's just awesome. It's the small things in life.
Back on Track.
After spending four months in London, I know I could never live there permanently. I am one of those people who reaaaally gets affected by the weather. I just couldn't deal with it being dark and dreary all the time. There were only a handful of sunny days in the four months I was there (January to May 2012) - the warmest being in March right before I left for springbreak! It wasn't even that warm at the end of the semester. It was such a downer for me. But today, when I was just walking around exploring Melbourne, I found myself thinking I could definitely live in this city and settle down. But hey, I guess that's what everyone else thinks, too, since Melbourne is ranked the most livable city in the world! Even though Melbourne is known to experience all four seasons in one day, with the handful of sunny, warmish days I've already experienced here, I'd be fine with it.
Other Factors Making my Experience Better This Time Around.
How to Choose?
I was very lucky to be able to experience two different study abroad programs and ultimately have the experience I was looking for. But for many, you only get one shot. Before you choose your study abroad site, RESEARCH!
What will the weather be like the majority of your time there? Will it get better? If it doesn't, how will it affect your mood?
What do you want from the experience? Are you just looking to go abroad? Or are you looking for full immersion? Would you be more comfortable having classes with your friends from back home or do you want to go out of your comfort zone and have to meet completely new friends?
Would you rather be in a really touristy city? Or would you rather be in a lesser known gem of a city?
After Getting Accepted.
So you've been accepted into a great program and you're really excited. All you can really do before heading to your study abroad country is figure out your living accommodations. As I mentioned before, this is extremely important. It really can completely change your study abroad experience. While a semester abroad is usually more expensive already without even considering housing, it is really easy to want to save as much money on this big expenditure. That's what I did in London, but I knew better than to do the same in Melbourne. Sure, I'm paying quite a bit more for where I'm staying now, but I'm living with all RMIT/UniMelb students in a great little village EXTREMELY close to everything. With this in mind, before looking at housing options, write down exactly what you want from your experience and how it could be impacted by where you live. It's foolish to ruin such an amazing experience just to save a bit of money, which really is nothing in the grand scheme of things compared to the loans you'll have to pay back anyway when you graduate.
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