I have been in London a little over a month now, and have been lucky enough to witness an interesting trend that has taught me a great deal, which I thought I’d share here. This trend has a lot to do with who your friends are, and even more to do with who your friends aren't.
Since this is study abroad and few people come here with an already established friend group (unless you are part of the ~20 GW students at LSE), I find that a lot of people tend to stick with their friends who they met in the first week, or who they live in close contact with. This is fine, as it largely sums up my friend group as well, but the mistake I see people make is a failure to branch out after they've found a few people they connect with. The fatal flaw I notice is that people really, really enjoy being comfortable—besides, once you have a friend group, why put time between you and them to explore what the other 10,000 students might be like? I’ve seen both sides of this coin, and rarely, if ever, am I disappointed I took the time to meet somebody new. In fact, of the people who I’ve met after I made a good group of friends here, a majority of them play a significant role in my time abroad. In short, never get too comfortable.
Unfortunately, our mind works in such a way that it sometimes tells us we should settle in and stop putting ourselves “out there”. But the truth is we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take. For every night we choose not to go out and meet new people, whether at school or in the city itself, we give up a chance to meet someone who might change our lives. It’s incredible to me how studying abroad for only a month has taught me the significance of this dilemma, and it’s something I’ve come to realize has great potential. I tend not to use the term “lean in” now, since it’s the title of a new book from a Facebook executive, but, nonetheless, we have to “lean in” to the discomfort of meeting people we do not know. In the end, it is incredibly rewarding.
Of all the values I will learn from study abroad, I believe that this is truly one of the most important, because study abroad is really just a snapshot of what the rest of your life will look like: traveling, moving to new places, making new friends, and leaving old ones. Wisdom to me is the ability to recognize the value in long-term benefit, and studying in London so far has definitely shown me that there is a significant long-term benefit to getting uncomfortable.