Planning the Freshman 15

For most graduating seniors who are preparing to finally venture out beyond the confines of the “hallowed halls” of their high schools, the Freshman 15 strikes terror into their hearts. It fills them with dread and concern. It boasts a new, poorly constructed diet that only dining hall food can live up to. Well, this isn’t exactly the Freshman 15 I’m discussing. Sure, I could be obsessively researching dorm-room appropriate exercises or typing up carefully constructed nutritional plans for my first semester on campus (things I’ve seen friends do). However, this Freshman 15 I am embracing.

I have decided that over the course of my first year in London, I will make every effort imaginable to visit 15 villages or cities across the United Kingdom and Europe. Yes, I do realize that I am setting myself up with some pretty high expectations, but in all fairness, if I am going to be living in Europe, I certainly want to make the most out of the situation. If I am going to move away from everything I know, I am going to get the most out of the entire experience, and if I am going to take up a residence in a foreign country, then that certainly won’t be the only country I’ll become acquainted with over the course of my residency.

Of course, I will be getting  a bit of a head-start on that endeavor as immediately after graduation my mother, boyfriend, and I will be heading over to Europe so that I have a slight chance to get my bearings before the big move. We are definitely on the countdown: 30 days out as of today. While that trip will be fantastic and I genuinely do not think I could be looking forward to it anymore, I am equally thrilled at the thought of venturing out and traveling come September and October. With discounted plane and rail tickets for students, other European cities should be relatively accessible. Nothing seems too impossible.

The plausibility of most of my travel daydreams are, in part, enabled by the fact that I’m not yet actually living in Europe. Once I get there I’m sure that things will be crazy busy and I know that there will definitely be a bit of culture shock that I’ll need to adapt to quickly. I’ve gotten a small taste of the adjustments that will await me on student orientation in September. A Facebook page was recently set up for students who have received offers to study at the university, and while the page has provided me with a great basis to meet and interact with students from all over the world… it also has given me a taste of what’s to come. I had not realized that there were so many minute colloquial differences between British English and American English. Oh my goodness. Nothing says embarrassing like having to ask the student in the group chat to explain what he meant twice and still not completely understanding what was being discussed. Phrases like “It’s mint” or “12 hours a week” are just a sample. I have also noticed that “Cheers!” is unbelievably versatile in conversations. It seems like a reliable go-to word in interactions. “Smashing” was also amusing. That term was merely funny to me because I had read English books that used it liberally, but for whatever reason I hadn’t quite processed that it was actually a legitimate part of the vocabulary. Anyways, I am sure that it is quite apparent there are a lot of little lessons that I have yet to learn, but I will most certainly adapt to it with time and exposure.

As I work through my final exams and prepare for graduation and my first trip to Europe since my acceptance, I have been compiling a list of cities of interest to possibly visit in the upcoming year (or 3 years). Please feel free to message me or comment cities or villages across Europe or the United Kingdom that you’ve either experienced and loved or simply heard were unforgettable. Thinking about all of the positives that will come with such a large leap of faith serve as wonderful distractions to all the difficulties and challenges that will soon need to be met and dealt with accordingly.

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