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Picture of Kevin Carberry pointing at a building

An Adventure James Bond Could Only Dream Of ft. Kevin Carberry

Friday, November 25, 2022

During my first semester of college through UMass Amherst, I traveled to four countries, went to some of the most famous museums in the world, and stood in line for fourteen hours to pay my respects to Queen Elizabeth II. At this point you may be able to guess, but I’ve been spending my first semester studying abroad in London.

Living in London has been a dream come true. Especially because this is my first time traveling outside the United States. When I was offered the opportunity to study abroad my first semester, I couldn’t pass it up. I was so excited to interact with different cultures and people. Coming from Milton, Massachusetts– it’s given me the perfect balance of going far away for school and then being close to home for studies in the spring.

London itself is very different from how I imagined. I was expecting pouring rain, smog, and people drinking tea while discussing their adoration for Her Majesty to be the bulk of my experience. My expectations were shattered pretty quickly when I arrived with clear blue skies and met British people who made me realize there is a lot more to the London experience than the Crown or Harry Potter. London is also one of the most diverse and multicultural cities on the globe– which is amazing and hard not to notice, coming from a small town. I have to say that gaining a realistic understanding of British people and life in London has been my favorite part of this program. It’s opened my eyes to different perspectives in a way I never expected.

This experience has certainly made me see the world differently but it’s also made me catch the travel bug. After planning weekend journeys and excursions alone, I feel so much more comfortable traveling and plan to do so a lot more, not only during my time at UMass, but throughout my life.

I have felt so lucky these past few months for this unbelievable experience. Some highlights have been traveling to Paris during our break week, swing dancing in world famous jazz bars, rocking out at punk clubs, participating in pub quizzes, reading poetry on the White Cliffs of Dover, and ending a long day of classes with a cozy night at the local pub with some mates (as you can see I’m very immersed in British culture).

Going in, I was worried about homesickness. I had insane plans to call home and friends for hours long facetimes basically every day. But the wonderful friends I’ve made and the supportive community I find myself in, have really made London feel like home. I’ve still kept in touch with family and friends, just not as much as I thought I would– and that’s okay.

Thinking about leaving in just about two weeks brings up a lot of different feelings. After being away for so long, I’m ready to visit home and see the people I love (and my dog!). But in many ways, London has become my home. I’ve developed my own routine, I understand the city, and I have friends here to whom I’ll have to say goodbye. It sounds cliché, but I love the life that I’ve built here. And that’s what’s so fantastic about studying abroad— it can make such a temporary experience feel like you’re living a new life.

As the semester winds down, I’m trying to cram in as much of the British experience as I can by visiting museums, restaurants, and parks that have been on my list for a while. I’m also looking forward to a UMass sponsored trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland next weekend to see the UMass hockey team play. Even thousands of miles away, UMass doesn’t forget about their Minutemen abroad.

I would encourage anyone reading this to study abroad; I know I’m planning on doing it as much as possible. The First-Year London Experience has been the adventure of a lifetime. As I gear up for a return home, I’m also preparing for another adventure, just as exciting– my first real semester of college on the UMass campus. The accents may be different, but I know that I’ll continue to learn things inside and outside of the classroom, make new friends, and try things outside of my comfort zone. Not to mention #1 dining is a welcome change from the regular fish and chips. GO U!