MY SEMESTER IN FLORIDA | 10 THINGS I TOOK AWAY FROM STUDYING ABROAD.

This post is well overdue, seeing as it's been over a year since I spent a semester studying abroad in Orlando, Florida but I reminisce about my time there constantly so thought I'd revisit my time there. Even though I've relocated to London for the year and have had a lot of fun in the process, my time in Orlando was probably some of the best months of my life so thought I'd share a bit more about my time there and what I took away from it. 



1. IT'S NOT (ALL) LIKE THE MOVIES

I didn't spend all my nights doing keg stands at a pool party with 300 other people (bummer) or travel across the state in a camper van with all my buddies (double bummer) but I did get to experience a lot of things I'd only dreamt of being a part of when I was 16 and glued to 90210. I got to go to plenty of house parties, went to prom, experienced Spring Break, went to an american football game, saw Orlando Magic play and did attend a UCF Splash Down pool party where there was free pizza and a foam party - close enough. If anything my time there was better than what I'd seen on TV because there was a lot less drama and tears. 

2. YOU COME BACK WITH A DIFFERENT MINDSET 

One of the sad things about travelling or living abroad is that eventually you have to come back - you feel like a different person with all these experiences behind you and your new found knowledge but the truth is everything else will remain the same. After a week of being home the novelty of being back will wear off for you and for everyone around you and things will go back to how they were pre-SA. If anything it will probably get a bit annoying for your friends the third time you're telling that story to someone about the time you almost got stabbed by rednecks in the middle of a forest. At least you'll always have the memories and can reminisce with the people who experienced them with you - Hey Meg! 

3. YOU MAKE FRIENDS FOR LIFE

Going on holiday or studying abroad makes me feel the same way as watching a TV show. You get attached to the characters but you know it's going to end and then that part of your life is over and all you have are the flashbacks of when Ross said Rachel's name at the alter and everyone was like oh ma gad. Then again I haven't yet had the chance to message Damon Salvatore and ask how he's been doing. Even if I'm not in contact daily with all the friends I made in Orlando, they still cross my mind and I still giggle at the hilarious times we had. 

I met such great people in America from all walks of life and funnily enough one of the girls from my university who came along too is now one of my best friends and we're living together in Bournemouth for final year! - funnily enough we barely spoke the first two years of university despite being in the same class, just took her a while to realise how hilarious and brilliant I am. 

4. I'M A LOT MORE INDEPENDENT THAT I THOUGHT

Cheesy, but true. I've always been alright with travelling by myself and trying new things, although I still rely on my mum to ring up the doctors for my appointments. I was a bit apprehensive about moving to Orlando for 5 months - what if no one liked me? what if I got really homesick and would have to spend £500 to get home? what if I had to share a room with someone who was slightly crazy and murdered me in my sleep? Thankfully none of these things happened (the first one is to my knowledge) and I felt right at home in Orlando and Rosen (my halls of residence/school) I loved starting afresh after a bit of a rough time and being able to be let loose and be myself, I do wish I would have got a driving license before my time in the states so I wouldn't have had to rely on friends or Uber though! 

5. THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHTER, AND MORE AMERICAN

As my time at University has almost come to an end...It's time to start thinking where the bloody 'el I'm going to settle down after it - and taking a year out to travel. Living in London has made me realise I don't reaaally want to live there long-term, but I feel like I definitely want to return to America for a couple of years, be it San Diego, New York or New Orleans. It will take a bit of time and hard-work but hopefully I'll be able to get a good job either in events or writing out there, before settling down in Gibraltar in my 30s so I don't need to hire a babysitter or pay for my children's healthcare/college funds (kidding, kinda). 

6. YOU ONLY REGRET THE THINGS YOU DON'T DO

To an extend, I do have a couple of regrets that I don't think are suitable for me to share with everyone reading this #GreenMachine, But sometimes I wish I would have spent lest time buying Victoria's Secret bikinis at the mall and saved more money to go travelling, or told more people how I really felt (deep) and gone on more dates. At the end of the day we never really get to do everything we want to do and not every day is going to be as exciting as the next, but it just makes the great experiences all that more special and memorable. 

7. IT'S POSSIBLE TO GET SICK OF DISNEY WORLD

 I love all things Disney and own a lot of little mermaid related stuff, but it was nothing compared to a lot of people I met in Orlando who lived, breathed and talked Disney. I remember being sat with a couple of girls at lunch from one of my classes and they spent the whole time discussing what disney princesses we'd be picked to work as at the park and what our favourite tsum tsum's were (I only discovered what these were after 2 months of being there). Despite living 10 minutes away from the parks, I probably only went once a month frankly because it's expensive, I didn't know anyone who wanted to go that much and there's only so many times you can tolerate It's A Small World

8. IT'S ALWAYS BETTER BEING PART OF THE FURNITURE 

As much as I love travelling, it's not the same visiting a city as being a part of it and the culture. I guess airbnb is trying to close that gap by letting you live in a local's house and learn all the inside gossip. There are so many independent companies who are focusing more on this principle and offering cooking classes, tours, nights out etc. with locals as opposed to just going to all the tourist spots. It was great to make so many American friends and find out more about their hometowns and experience all these regular American things. 

9. IT CAN BE SCARY (AT FIRST)

As I said, I had a lot of worries and was anxious before getting there - there were still days where all I did was stay by the pool, skype my friends back home or watch Netflix for hours because I hadn't made many close friends yet but it was all a matter of putting yourself out there. Americans are some of the friendliest people I've met and they probably won't think It's weird if you approach them and ask how's it going - how lovely would it be if everyone socialised on the tube as opposed to looking like they're heading to their dogs funeral? 

10. YOU'LL LEARN THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW (YOU NEVER KNEW)

That was a nod to Pocahontas, incase you didn't catch on. Being away for so long made me learn so many things about myself, who was worth keeping around back home and who simply acted like I'd disappeared into Mars and just about life really. Meeting new people means discovering all these new things and listening to stories about the wildest things. I for one discovered that I now love Gumbo and you can never have too much Mac N Cheese. If anyone's thinking about studying abroad I definitely recommend it and it's worth the effort and whatever you're leaving behind! 

♡ GS ♡

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